Dec 22, 2017

Meet the Washington City Paper’s new owner

Mark Ein and his wife, Sally Stiebel, attend the 2015 U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens. PhotoL Jean Catuffe / GC Images

Mark Ein (pronounced "eyen") — a Washington-area investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist who controls the Kastle Systems building-security company and founded the Washington Kastles tennis team — is buying the floundering Washington City Paper, a 36-year-old alt-weekly.

Why it matters: Ein told me in a phone interview: "I truly believe journalism is saving the world."

Ein said the deal was speeded up after the current owner, SouthComm, told employees Monday that their salaries would be cut 40% starting Jan. 1.

  • He said the City Paper loses less than $1 million a year. He said he wants it to break even or better so it's sustainable, but added: "This doesn't fall into the profit part of my life."
  • He said he didn't pay "a huge amount of money," but assumed the liability and burn rate.
  • Ein plans to keep the print edition, which is important to the major arts organizations that are key advertisers.
  • Ein said he likes the arts and entertainment, food and local politics coverage, and would like to see the addition of local sports, and perhaps coverage of life outside the District, in the near-in suburbs. (He lived in D.C. much of his life, but now is in McLean.)
  • Ein formed a Washington City Paper Journalist Alumni Group to help re-energize the paper. Members include CNN anchor Jake Tapper, author Ta-Nehisi Coates and Pulitzer-winning journalist Kate Boo. Recode executive editor Kara Swisher was a City Paper editor.

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