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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Advance-owned Company Wants to Launch New Outlet in Cleveland, Would Compete Directly with Crain's

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2020 at 9:38 AM

click to enlarge SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
Columbus Business First, a print and digital media outlet for the chamber of commerce set, is seeking funding from Cleveland-area businesses and organizations with the hopes of establishing a newsroom in Cleveland, sources have told Scene. 

Columbus Business First is one of more than 40 regional publications owned and operated by American City Business Journals, which is itself owned and operated by Advance Publications, the corporation which owns and operates (and has recently overseen the exsanguination of) Cleveland's daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer.

ACBJ publications are similar, in fact almost identical, to publications in the Crain's chain. Both offer digital and print content to local subscribers in the areas of business and law, real estate, manufacturing, sports, education, and nonprofits and philanthropy. Both regularly print industry lists in their print editions (largest law firms, highest paid executives, etc.) and publish an annual "Book of Lists" which includes troves of data on local companies. Both also host events and ceremonies to celebrate regional leaders and newsmakers of note.

Whether the Cleveland outlet would be a satellite of Columbus Business First or an independent ACBJ newsroom remains unclear. Ditto projected timelines and staffing. The publisher of Columbus Business First, Nick Fortine, did not answer our multiple questions about the publication's recent fundraising efforts in Cleveland or what an ACBJ outlet might look like in Cleveland.

"If and when we have a comment, we’ll release it," he wrote in an email. Representatives from ACBJ did not respond to an emailed request for comment about their Cleveland plans either. 

Elizabeth McIntyre, editor of Crain's Cleveland Business, told Scene only that the editorial prerogatives of her publication had not changed and would not change, even in the face of a potential new competitor.

"By focusing on information that is important to business leaders in our region, we help them make better decisions and valuable connections," McIntyre wrote in an email. "That was true in 1980, is true in 2020 and will remain true for years to come. If American City Business Journal is exploring launching a product in Cleveland, the 26 staff members at Crain’s wish them well."

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