At the New York Press: Layoffs, Circulation Drop, and No More Hooker Ads!

“We expect to give The Voice a run for its money,” said Tom Allon, president and C.E.O. of Manhattan Media. 

Yesterday, it was announced that Manhattan Media had purchased the New York Press, the alt-weekly that challenged the rival Voice during its mid-90’s heydey, but has since fallen on hard times.

So how does the feisty (and sometimes salacious) Press, fit in with Manhattan Media’s stable of community papers like Our Town and West Side Spirit

For one thing, ads for transvestite hookers and Asian massage parlors are gone!

“As of this week, we are not going to accept any explicit advertising,” Mr. Allon said.

“We’re probably kissing away about a million dollars a year in revenue,” he added. “We’re not making a moral or puritanical decision. We just believe in the long-term, it’s not best for the publication.”

Of course, it’s all about synergy these days, and publishing such adult ads in Our Town probably wouldn’t fly.

And then there’s The Press’s circulation, which Mr. Allon estimates at between 80,000 to 103,000. Next week, that gets slashed to 50,000.

Why the drop?

“A fair amount of the press circulation was above 42nd Street,” said Mr. Allon, whose other publications already have an uptown readership. With The Press, he said, "we’re going to flood the zone downtown.”

But, according to Mr. Allon, the combined circulation for advertisers will be around 103,000.

And after Labor Day, Mr. Allon said there will be a Brooklyn edition of The Press.

On the editorial front, the Press staff will be merged with Manhattan Media’s Downtown paper. Jerry Portwood will remain as Press editor, while Downtown’s Bill Gunlock becomes executive editor. Edward-Isaac Dovere, politics editor for company's City Hall paper, will now oversee the beat across publications. 

Although Mr. Allon said he intends to staff up with additional reporters and editors, and invite back selected past contributors, there have already been cuts: Press assistant editor Kari Milchan was laid off yesterday, as well as two salespeople.

And in taking the company forward, Mr. Allon dares not speak of alt-weeklies.

“I’ve told all the people in the office that ‘alternative’ is a four letter word,” he said, dubbing it "very '70's."

“We’re going to classify [The Press] as an independent newspaper, which I think is much more 2007,” Mr. Allon said. He added: “It’s going to have independent voices in terms of politics, media, culture. We’re not going to lean left or right.”