Stern sells L.A. Weekly

Village Voice, other alternatives bought

The Village Voice, the L.A. Weekly and five other alternative newspapers have been sold by Stern Publishing to an investment group for an undisclosed price, three months after they were put on the sales block.

A spokeswoman for Village Voice publisher David Schneiderman confirmed Tuesday that Stern Publishing had completed the sale to a group led by money managers Weiss, Peck & Greer. She also said Schneiderman will become the chief executive of the chain of papers — which will include an alternative weekly in Nashville, already owned by the investors — and that he expects few changes in the Voice.

Schneiderman’s spokeswoman also indicated that the Voice, which distributes 250,000 copies per week, will continue to be free of charge and that Donald Forst, the paper’s current editor, will remain in that post if he wants to do so.

Stern Publishing owner Leonard Stern announced in late September that he had hired investment bankers Veronis Suhler & Associates to put the company, which has 500 employees and annual revenue of $80 million, up for sale after his children told him they did not want to pursue publishing careers.

Stern entered the alternative weekly business in 1985, when he bought the Village Voice from media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The empire subsequently grew to include the L.A. Weekly, Seattle Weekly, City Pages in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the Cleveland Free Times, the O.C. Weekly and the Long Island Voice. Combined circulation of the papers is 910,000.

At the time, Schneiderman told Daily Variety that Stern would seek a buyer who would treat the staff “with respect and a positive attitude,” with price being the second major consideration.

The Voice was founded in 1955 by Norman Mailer, Dan Wolf and Edwin Fancher and became highly influential during the 1960s. It eliminated its $1.25 cover price in April 1996, when its circulation was 111,298.

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