ALTERNATIVE WEEKLY CHAIN FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

By: Lucia Moses

Yesse! Hopes To Expand Into Bigger Markets


The majority owner of four alternative weeklies announced Thursday it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying heavy investments in its papers haven’t paid off as expected.

The company, Westfield, Ind.-based Yesse! Communications Inc., in January closed one of its money-losing papers, Icon in Iowa City, Iowa, laying off nine, and is in talks to sell The Octopus in Champaign, Ill.

Yesse! started buying alternatives in 1997, the year it was founded. Co-founder and CEO Craig Hitchcock said Yesse! was able to improve the papers financially, but three of them had yet to turn a profit. As the economic picture worsened early this year, it made sense to consider restructuring, he said.

“We probably stayed in small markets too long,” Hitchcock said in an interview. “The first quarter was not what we expected. We were off on sales across the board.”

The company plans to keep its three bigger weeklies, the Bloomington (Ind.) Independent, Illinois Times in Springfield, and Impact Weekly in Dayton, Ohio, and add papers in other mid-sized markets in the coming year, with help from outside investors.

Hitchcock, a former city editor at the Indianapolis News, said he remains bullish on the alternative market: “We deliver a very valuable niche – young, affluent readers, at a very low cost per thousand.”



Lucia Moses (lmoses@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor covering business for E&P.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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