houston press's new direction
Pioneering Houston alternative media outlet sold to mysterious new owner
Houston’s most pioneering voice in alternative journalism will have a new owner.
The Houston Press, the city’s first arts and entertainment weekly newspaper (now strictly online) announced on November 9 that its ownership company Voice Media Group will sell to a new — and unnamed — buyer.
This new owner promises to “continue the normal operations of the Houston Press for years to come,” per a company statement.
Voice Media Group (VMG), via its digital arm V Digital Services, will continue to service and support its digital agency customers in Houston, per the announcement. “VMG is proud of its history in Houston and is excited to move forward serving its digital customers in the Bayou City,” the company added in a statement.
Longtime Press editor Margaret Downing, the publication’s stalwart force in the local journalism community, declined to comment to CultureMap on the pending sale. The Press has yet to provide any information about the new owner or ownership group's identity.
Press publisher Stuart Folb also did not return CultureMap’s request for comment.
VMG will continue to operate the other local publications in its portfolio: Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, the Dallas Observer, and New Times Broward-Palm Beach, the company noted.
Founded in 1989, the Press quickly rose to prominence and popularity with its irreverent, edgy tone and aggressive investigative reporting.
Severe budget cuts forced the laying off of a large majority of the publication’s editorial fulltime staff, as well as a move from weekly print publishing to a digital-only presence, one that included reader donations for additional financial support.
Honors for the paper include first-place for staff blog in the 2016 Association of Alternative Newsmedia Awards; winner in the 2016 Clarion Awards for feature writing; winner for Outstanding Newspaper Article in the national 2016 GLAAD media awards; three first places in the 2016 First Amendment Awards competition for Texas and Oklahoma; and seven first places in the statewide 2016 Lone Star Awards.
Notable alumni include award-winning food critic Robb Walsh and reporter Steve McVicker, who penned the novel I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks, later to become a Jim Carrey-led film in 2009.