Six months after its relaunch, hyperlocal newspaper Malibu Surfside News is growing its advertising business and has turned a profit, the paper’s new owner said.
Surfside News was relaunched in October by 22nd Century Media, a Chicago-area company, which purchased the free weekly from previous owner Anne Soble in August.
Andrew Nicks, chief revenue officer at 22nd Century, said the paper has reinforced it ties with local advertisers.
“We’re growing on the track we want to grow on,” Nicks said. “It is profitable through the first six months.”
Soble ran the Surfside News for 37 years until severe health problems forced her to cease publication in June.
Founded by former Goldman Sachs investment banker Jack Ryan in 2005, 22nd Century bought the paper for just under six figures. Ryan was a Republican candidate who faced Barack Obama in his 2004 race for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat.
The Surfside News is 22nd Century’s first investment outside of the Chicago area, where it owns a dozen hyperlocal papers. Ryan, who now lives in Malibu, learned of the paper’s plight last year.
The new owner has hired two editors and an advertising director who works from Malibu, Nicks said. The paper’s advertisers include real estate firms, mom-and-pop shops, grocery stores and restaurants.
The paper produces about 50 local stories a week on school board meetings, sports and other local news with an exclusive focus on Malibu.
“If it’s in Santa Monica, we’re not interested,” said Heather Warthen, chief events officer at 22nd Century.
The paper is delivered free to about 8,500 homes in Malibu.
There have been other transitions in the world of L.A.’s hyperlocal papers. Last month, Clif Smith, publisher of the Beverly Hills Courier, announced he was selling the weekly paper to philanthropist and friend Paula Kent Meehan. The move could bring solace to some of Smith’s political enemies in the city, who claimed he used the paper to advance his political causes. Meanwhile, the weekly Palisadian Post is operating with many new hires since Alan Smolinksy purchased the paper nearly 18 months ago. The change has rankled some readers because he replaced a longtime editor popular in the community. What’s more, Aaron Kushner’s Freedom Communications has also recently launched a monthly edition of the Easy Reader newspaper targeting the coastal communities from Playa del Rey to Malibu.
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