Rob Harvilla documented the alt-weekly landscape in a lengthy new article for the national website that includes an interview with Jandy Doliphint (aka Andy Downing and Joel Oliphint)
To be honest, it's a little weird being on the other end of the tape recorder. But a few weeks back, the two of us at Alive joined The Ringer's Rob Harvilla for a Zoom interview to discuss the current alt-weekly landscape. (Read the feature for details on the totally apt digital backdrop Joel Oliphint deployed for the conversation.)
In addition to documenting the vital work being done by pubs like Seattle's The Stranger and the Chicago Reader (and, yes, Alive), Harvilla explores the COVID-19 environment that has decimated alt-weeklies, along with countless other industries, as well as the various ways in which local weeklies are uniquely positioned to document this current round of Black Lives Matter protests.
In Ohio, the online weekly Columbus Alive — with a staff consisting of two people — goes viral with the bizarre tale of a colorful school bus full of hippie circus performers accosted by a SWAT team during a downtown protest and refashioned, via right-leaning social media, into one of those dreaded Busloads of Antifa. (Marco Rubio tweeted about it, but sometimes juggling clubs are just juggling clubs, and an ax for firewood is just an ax for firewood.) Pittsburgh City Paper can both counter police narratives about the use of force at local protests and explain the ongoing controversy at the city’s biggest daily, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which barred some of its own Black reporters from covering those protests due to “bias.” In Oregon, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Willamette Week can tap into a surge in calls for racial justice so far-reaching it triggered the Portland Stripper Strike.
And of course, in Minneapolis, the longtime alt-weekly City Pages can suddenly find itself standing at the epicenter of an international movement and poised to play a crucial role in leading it, even as prestigious out-of-town journalists parachuted into town seemingly by the thousands. “I do think it’s been very interesting to see Minneapolis portrayed in national media,” says City Pages editor-in-chief Emily Cassel. “I mean, when in history has the world paid this much attention to the Twin Cities, right?”
But the paper — and the timeless alt-weekly format and ethos — was built for this fraught moment.
We're obviously a bit biased here, but we think you should set aside time to read the whole thing.