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Washington City Paper

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The Washington City Paper
TypeAlternative weekly
Owner(s)Mark Ein
EditorAlexa Mills
Founded1981; 43 years ago (1981) (as 1981)
Headquarters734 15th St. NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C., U.S. 20005
Circulation68,059 weekly in 2011[1]

The Washington City Paper[a] is a U.S. alternative weekly newspaper serving the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area since 1981. The City Paper is distributed on Thursdays; its average circulation in 2006 was 85,588. The paper's editorial mix is focused on local news and arts. It is owned by Mark Ein, who bought it in 2017.



The Washington City Paper was started in 1981 by Russ Smith and Alan Hirsch, the owners of the Baltimore City Paper.[3] For its first year it was called 1981: Washington's Alternative Newspaper.[2] The name was changed to City Paper in January 1982 and in December 1982 Smith and Hirsch sold 80% of it to Chicago Reader, Inc.[3] In 1988, Chicago Reader, Inc. acquired the remaining 20% interest. In July 2007 both the Washington City Paper and the Chicago Reader were sold to the Tampa-based Creative Loafing chain. In 2012, Creative Loafing Atlanta and the Washington City Paper were sold to SouthComm Communications.[4]

Amy Austin, the longtime general manager, was promoted to publisher in 2003. Michael Schaffer was named editor in April, 2010, two months after Erik Wemple resigned to run the new local startup TBD.[5]

On December 21, 2017, it was announced that D.C.-area venture capitalist and philanthropist Mark Ein would buy the City Paper.[6] He became the first D.C.-based owner in the paper's history.[7] Ein announced the creation of two groups to ensure the paper's long-term success: "Alumni Group" and "Friends of Washington City Paper."[8]

Defamation lawsuit


In 2011, Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, filed a lawsuit[9] against the City Paper for The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder, a November 19, 2010 cover story that portrayed him in a negative light.[10][11] He and the Simon Wiesenthal Center claimed that the story used anti-Semitic tropes.[12] Prominent sports journalists, Jewish groups,[13] and Jewish writers published sharp criticism of Snyder and the Simon Wiesenthal Center's claims of anti-Semitism, referring in various opinion pieces and public statements to their statements as, "breathtakingly dumb allegation",[14] "almost unbearably stupid",[15] and "so self-evidently lacking in merit".[16]

The Washington City Paper issued its own response in a published editorial, saying, "But we at City Paper take accusations of anti-Semitism seriously—in part because many of us are Jewish, including staffers who edited the story and designed the cover. So let us know, Mr. Snyder, when you want to fight the real anti-Semites."[17]

In response, hundreds of loyal readers donated over $30,000 to a legal defense fund.[18][19]

In September 2011 the lawsuit was dropped, after, in December 2010, Washington D.C. passed[20] anti-SLAPP legislation ("David Donovan, the Redskins' former chief operating officer and general counsel, that threatened an expensive legal battle unless Snyder received a retraction and an apology"[21]), while also, Amy Austin, the publisher, had written in a February article[22] that unauthorized switching of long-distance accounts by Snyder Communications and GTE Communications was not meant to be construed as, by Snyder himself, but people who worked for Snyder Communications and GTE Communications.[21][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]



Regular City Paper features include:

  • a cover feature, 2,500 to 12,000 words in length
  • an arts feature, 1,200 to 2,000 words in length
  • The District Line, a section of shorter news features about D.C.
  • Loose Lips, a news column and blog devoted to D.C. local politics[30]
  • Young & Hungry, a food column and blog[31]
  • Housing Complex, a real estate column and blog[32]
  • Music, theater, film, gallery, and book reviews by various writers
  • City Lights, a section comprising critics' events picks.

Also published is one syndicated feature:

Notable former staffers

An empty Washington City Paper dispenser at Huntington metro station


  1. ^ Originally titled 1981: Washington's Alternative Newspaper and titled the City Paper between 1982–1988, and still informally known by the latter name[2]


  1. ^ "Annual Audit Report, December 2011". Larkspur, Calif.: Verified Audit Circulation. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "City Paper (Washington, D.C.) 1982-1988". Directory of U.S. Newspapers in American Libraries. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. Archived from the original on September 7, 2023. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Lowman, Stephen (August 9, 2009). "City Talk: The key players of Washington's influential and controversial weekly paper look back on its legacy". Washington Post. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  4. ^ Celeste, Eric (2012-07-03). "Nashville-based media company SouthComm acquires Creative Loafing Atlanta and Washington City Paper". Clatl.com. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
  5. ^ Shott, Chris (2010-04-27). "Michael Schaffer is New Editor of Washington City Paper". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
  6. ^ Mills, Alexa (21 December 2017). "Long Live City Paper". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  7. ^ Shapiro, Ari (22 December 2017). "'Washington City Paper' Will Continue To Offer Local News With New Owner". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  8. ^ Beaujon, Andrew (2017-12-21). "Mark Ein Buys Washington City Paper". Washingtonian. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  9. ^ "To Our Readers". 2 February 2011.
  10. ^ McKenna, Dave (2010-11-19). "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
  11. ^ Schaffer, Michael (2011-02-02). "Snyder Sues". Washington City Paper. Michael Schaffer. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  12. ^ Kaminer, Michael. "NFL Owner Enlists Wiesenthal Center After Being Ridiculed". The Forward. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  13. ^ Courtland, Milloy (February 6, 2011). "Snyder's devil is in the details - and a name". Washington Post.
  14. ^ "Wiesenthal Center Out-of-Bounds on Snyder". Tablet Magazine. 2011-02-03. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  15. ^ Goldberg, Jeffrey (2011-02-03). "Oh, Cut the Crap, Simon Wiesenthal Center!". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  16. ^ Carr, David (2011-02-06). "Dan Snyder's Odd Case Against Washington City Paper". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  17. ^ "On the Matter of Dan Snyder's Horns". Washington City Paper. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  18. ^ Ember, Sydney (3 July 2011). "Readers Rally Around Washington City Paper". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  19. ^ "Stand With City Paper". Washington City Paper. Archived from the original on 7 April 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  20. ^ "Burke v. John Doe No. 1". ACLU of DC. 31 December 2016. Archived from the original on April 28, 2021. In December of 2010, the D.C. Council passed (with our support) an Anti-SLAPP Act
  21. ^ a b Farhi, Paul (10 September 2011). "Redskins owner Dan Snyder drops lawsuit against Washington City Paper". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2015-07-14. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  22. ^ Austin, Amy (25 February 2011). "Letter from the Publisher". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 26 September 2021. The story didn't actually say the things Snyder has claimed it does—like call him a criminal, or a user of illegal military chemicals, or mock his wife's battle against breast cancer. It did none of those things. In media interviews and in our own pages, City Paper editors have pointed this out repeatedly since the case was filed.
  23. ^ "Dan Snyder Lawsuit - The Story So Far". Washington City Paper. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  24. ^ Austin, Amy (24 February 2011). "From the Publisher to Our Readers (And Dan Snyder)". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  25. ^ "Washington City Paper - D.C. Arts, News, Food and Living". www.washingtoncitypaper.com. Archived from the original on 8 April 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  26. ^ "Washington City Paper - D.C. Arts, News, Food and Living". www.washingtoncitypaper.com. Archived from the original on 13 April 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  27. ^ "Now Comes The District Of Columbia To Protest The Dumbassness Of Dan Snyder's Dumbass Libel Suit". Deadspin. Archived from the original on August 24, 2019. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  28. ^ Alexander, Keith L. (2 August 2011). "D.C. law unconstitutional, Dan Snyder argues in City Paper lawsuit". Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 3, 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  29. ^ Alexander, Keith L. (31 August 2011). "D.C. files motion in Daniel Snyder's lawsuit against the City Paper". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 26 September 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  30. ^ Sommer, Will. "Loose Lips - All About D.C. Politics". Washingtoncitypaper.com. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
  31. ^ Pipkin, Whitney. "Young & Hungry - D.C. Restaurants and Food". Washingtoncitypaper.com. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
  32. ^ Wiener, Aaron. "Housing Complex - D.C. Real Estate, Development, and Urbanism". Washingtoncitypaper.com. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lefrak, Mikaela (14 September 2017). "The David Carr Generation". The Atlantic. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  34. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (19 February 2015). "In Memory of David Carr, Who Made Me a Journalist". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  35. ^ a b c d Dixon, Glenn (14 July 2015). "The Paper Where Ta-Nehisi Coates Learned the Ropes". The New Republic. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  36. ^ "The 60-second interview: Erik Wemple, Washington Post media critic". Politico. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  37. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (9 January 2015). "Press critic Jack Shafer to join Politico". Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  38. ^ "Amanda Hess to be Keynote Speaker at Raliance Media Summit". Poynter. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  39. ^ Lynch, Matthew. "Deadspin hires Dave McKenna for the ESPN beat". Politico. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  40. ^ "Food's New Contributing Writer". The New York Times Company. 9 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  41. ^ Scocca, Tom (2 February 2011). "Washington NFL Owner Daniel Snyder Finds Another Embarrassing, No-Win Project to Spend His Money On". Slate. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  42. ^ a b c "Who We Are". Slate. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  43. ^ Roush, Chris (30 September 2017). "Houston Chronicle econ reporter DePillis leaves for CNNMoney". Talking Biz News. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  44. ^ Beaujon, Andrew (2017-06-02). "Three Ideas for Saving Washington City Paper*". Washingtonian. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  45. ^ "Mike DeBonis joins congressional team". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  46. ^ "AP hires Alan Suderman as Va. statehouse reporter". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  47. ^ Roush, Chris (16 May 2018). "Daily Beast hires Sommer to cover tech and digital culture". Talking Biz News. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  48. ^ "Los Angeles Times Names Shani Hilton Deputy Managing Editor". Los Angeles Times. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  49. ^ "Perry Stein". The Washington Post. 10 September 2022. Retrieved 10 September 2022.