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Columbus Alive Becomes Latest Alt-Weekly To Leave Print

Columbus Alive is going online-only in July, after more than a decade in print.
Gabe Rosenberg
Columbus Alive is going online-only in July, after more than a decade in print.

After more than a decade in print, the last physical copy of Columbus Alive goes out next week. The alt-weekly announced late last week it will become a digital-only publication.

Alive editor Andy Downing says it’s part of a larger trend.

“You can look across the country and see alt-weeklies, it’s a struggling industry,” he says. “The finances of it are difficult. The free weekly model just isn’t holding up the way it used to.”

Columbus Alive distributes 32,000 free issues a week, and Downing says that’s no longer sustainable.

“It’s a matter of pivoting to something that we think can bring some stability and a little opportunity, when we don’t have the financial burden of printing and distributing an issue every week,” he says.

Downing says details about personnel and structure changes are still up in the air, but he’s confident the content will stay the same.

“I’ve been told from the top-down they want us to continue to keep doing the type of journalism we’re doing,” he says.

Downing says that means a mix of serious long-form stories, like the magazine’s look at sexual assault allegations against Actual Brewing’s founder, and lighter pieces, like the "nine circles of Columbus Hell."

“It’s kind of finding a mix between those two and doing the weekly event type coverage, concert previews, band interviews, arts previews, interviews with local artists, just trying to cover a little bit of everything,” Downing says.

But despite his optimism about the publication’s future, Downing is sad about the loss of the print issue. He thinks there’s a weight to publishing stories and photos in a tangible format.

“I just like the tactile sensation of holding paper. I do think you lose something with that,” he says. “But I do think we can tell the same types of stories on the web.”

Columbus Alive will release its last print editionon July 3.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.