“Total annihilation”: Coronavirus may just be the end for many alt-weeklies

It was only seven days ago that we told you about The Stranger, the Seattle alt-(bi)weekly that was facing a financial crisis because of the city’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, which shut down concerts, bars, restaurants, and so many other events that provide the advertising fuel for an alt-weekly. “Ninety percent of our revenue — advertising, ticketing fees, and our own events — is directly tied to people getting together in groups,” the paper wrote in asking for donations. “The coronavirus situation has virtually eliminated this income all at once.”

But what a seven days it’s been. Since then, Seattle’s early and aggressive response to its hotspot status has spread nationwide. And the impact on The Stranger’s peers in city after city has been truly crushing. This has, without a doubt, been the single worst week in the history of America’s alternative press. They’re facing a double blow: Not only have their main advertising sources dried up, so have their main points of distribution. (Where do you pick up an alt-weekly? At a bar, at a restaurant, at a theater — all the places that have gone dark.)

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