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.

Concert Coverage

Anschutz Entertainment Group’s online ticketing platform, AXS, wants customers to do more than just buy concert tickets on the website.

AXS announced last week that it is adding entertainment news and coverage of live events. The first event covered on the site was the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which is produced by AEG’s AEG Live concert promotions business.

The initiative builds on the platform’s Examiner.com division, which posts news and features from around the country. The entertainment news will be written by many of those same people who will cover events in their local cities.

Tom Andrus, senior vice president and general manager at AXS.com, said the move was designed in response to what he said was a lack of coverage of live events. The site will also serve to publicize certain events produced by AEG.

“There are lots of salacious celebrity sites and some deep music sites, but nothing covering where to go out and what was the event like,” Andrus said. “In the live-events business, one of the hardest things to do is get people to know what’s going on.”

In January, ownership of Examiner.com was shifted from Philip Anschutz’s holding company, Anschutz Corp. of Denver, to AXS of downtown Los Angeles. That change was done to allow the ticketing site to work more closely with the Web news operation. There was no financial transaction involved.

The first events covered by AXS will be those produced by AEG. AXS contributors will get V.I.P. access to AEG events, allowing more in-depth coverage, Andrus said. The site will also cover events produced by other companies and at venues not owned by AEG.

AXS will pay contributors, contracting for articles with thousands of freelance writers.

The addition of entertainment news is just one more feature AXS hopes it can use to win ticketing business from its primary rival, Hollywood’s Ticketmaster.

Staff reporter Jonathan Polakoff can be reached at jpolakoff@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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