Alt-Weeklies: Will the Future of Local News and Culture Be as Fruitful as the Past?

Alt-weeklies have long provided the the latest in local arts, culture, and politics.
Credit Mike Licht / Creative Commons

For 38 years, The New Haven Advocate looked after its city with watchdog eyes. Each week, the alt-weekly’s team of reporters gave voice to local arts, politics, and fringe culture, providing New Haven residents with some of the the country’s most highly-respected pieces of long-form and investigative journalism.

But  just over a month ago, all of that came to an end. Years of downsizing drained the Advocate’s spirit. In early December, it was finally fully absorbed by its parent, Tribune Co., and renamed CTNow. Across the country, many alt-weeklies have succumbed to similar fates. Last year, the Boston Phoenix folded after 47 years of publication.

Still, others have found ways to establish sustainable business models, increasing readership through Internet services and mobile technology.

This hour on our program, we look at the evolving world of alt-weeklies. How are our weekly sources of local news and culture faring in today’s competitive market? And where are they headed?