On Oct. 31, 2018, Creative Loafing, an alt-weekly magazine famously dedicated to providing relatable yet critical insight into “all things arts and entertainment in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area of North Carolina,” officially ceased all future publishing of print magazines. The magazine released its last physical publication the next day; it will now only continue in its digital form.
According to Ryan Pitkin, the magazine’s former editor in chief, the majority of the staff was not made aware of this decision prior to its implementation. All seven full-time staff members that worked in the development of the print edition were immediately let go without any form of severance. After 31 years of consistent print, the magazine was terminated without warning.
Pitkin tweeted, “I’ve got some horrible news, our publisher Charles Womack waited until we went to print today then shut down the whole paper after 31 years just like that. Everyone out of work. No severance. No nothing. It’s been real.”
I've got some horrible news, our publisher Charles Womack waited until we went to print today then shut down the whole paper after 31 years just like that. Everyone out of work. No severance. No nothing. It's been real.
— Ryan Pitkin (@pitkin_ryan) October 31, 2018
Another former staff member took to Twitter to express her frustration. “Go f*ck yourself, Charles.” wrote Courtney Mihocik, the associate editor for the print magazine before its termination. She then responded to her original tweet writing, “I want to follow this up by saying I know that this is not a tasteful thing to say on SM but when you send a paper out, then 10 min later the publisher comes in and lays everyone off giving you 10 min to get your stuff, it’s a really horrid move that warrants this response.”
Go fuck yourself, Charles. https://t.co/TFWxiF7Oo0
— Courtney Mihocik (@CourtneyMiho) October 31, 2018
The decision to end the print section was made on Wednesday, October 31 by Alex Womack IV immediately after he was appointed as president of Womack Digital LLC by his father, Charles Womack III, the previous owner of Creative Loafing. Charles blamed the change on the general public’s preference to the magazine’s digital form, stating that “the media industry is moving fast and furious into the digital age and that is where Creative Loafing needs to be.”
It is true that print magazines have declined slightly in number of readers due to the popularization of online media. However, a survey conducted by Freeport Press earlier this year indicates that physical magazines are not dying as quickly as Charles Womack suggests. The survey, which involved over a thousand participants, shows that print magazines still, on average, garner more readers and subscribers than their digital alternatives. Creative Loafing’s website states that the print magazine reached “more than 276,000 readers” every week.
On November 17, the local band, The Business People, will be hosting a benefit called “End Of A Brand: Rest In Paper Fest.” All profits of this event will go towards aiding the former Creative Loafing staff members in their attempt to create their own arts and entertainment publication.