City Pages, a free newspaper that covered arts and culture in the Twin Cities for 41 years, will be shuttered, Star Tribune Media, its parent company, said Wednesday, as the pandemic continues to take a toll on the newspaper industry.
Mike Klingensmith, the chief executive and publisher of Star Tribune Media, informed staff that the print edition and website of City Pages would be closed effective immediately after advertiser and event revenue dried up.
“While City Pages has retained a strong brand in our market, the profound disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic have made it economically unviable,” he wrote. “As you can imagine, following months of quarantines, restrictions, and closures, virtually every advertiser in the core advertising base for City Pages — local restaurants, theaters, clubs, museums, and more — has drastically reduced its ad spending.”
Founded in 1979 as a monthly called Sweet Potato, City Pages went weekly in 1981. It was an established voice of the arts and music scene across Minneapolis and St. Paul. Star Tribune Media, the largest media company in Minnesota, bought the publication in 2015.
Star Tribune Media said the last print issue of City Pages would be distributed this week, and the paper’s 30 employees would receive severance packages.
Emily Cassel, who became City Pages’ first woman editor in chief earlier this year, said in an interview that the newspaper’s staff, some of whom had worked there for two decades or more, were “devastated” by the closure.
“We posted stories other places probably wouldn’t. We are just so embedded in the community. We know the people who live and work and do really weird or unexpected stuff here,” Ms. Cassel said.
“Having a resource that is free and is out there in the community week after week covering the stories that really matter to people, it’s invaluable. To watch these publications disappear is really heartbreaking.”