Scott Wilson! C\’mon down!

Last week the California Superior Court named a receiver to investigate the finances of SF Weekly’s parent company1 and develop a plan for the disposition of the company’s assets in order to pay the Bay Guardian the $22 million that VVM owes BG due to a predatory pricing lawsuit. 

Commissioner Everett A. Hewlett, Jr. entered the order appointing professional receiver David Summers to investigate the assets of New Times Media LLC and its subsidiary, SF Weekly LP.

VVM/SF Weekly immediately appealed the judgment 2. The California Court of Appeal will hear those arguments 9 a.m. June 11, 2010.

In a related case, on April 30th the Delaware Chancery Court 3 heard CA #5204, Times Media LLC v. Bay Guardian Co. Inc. This VVM filing seeks a ruling to the effect that membership interests of New Times Media LLC in certain Delaware companies cannot be sold in order to satisfy the judgment against New Times Media 4  5.

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Twenty years is not nothing.

It is not an instant, a blink of the eye or a snap. Twenty years is not a breeze, a cup of coffee or a piece of cake. Twenty years is an inconceivable stretch of time to a child, but just a good start at a successful partnership.

Every twenty years sees approximately 300,000 new Fords hit the road 6, as well as at least that many changes to the U.S. tax code. Twenty years is, roughly speaking, a generation.

Twenty years is a career.

Anyone who manages to last twenty years at any job has a certain amount of tenacity; duties, bosses, scope of work and title all certainly changed over the decades. Clambering up the lower branches of an organization to a perch in the uppermost limbs also speaks of some hard bark – surely not everyone cheered you on?

And without talent and confidence one wouldn’t have even contemplated the ascent, right?

So we’re all agreed then that C.J. Janovy is a talented, tenacious editor who “is universally beloved, pretty much across all departments. Inspiring leader, great manager of creative people. Impossible to replace”, as well as (perhaps begrudging) admired by her competitors 7?  Good, because that seems to be exactly the case. It appears everyone who worked with and for C.J. Janovy are alternately sad she’s leaving the The Pitch’s editor’s slot, but happy for her as an individual. She will be sorely missed.

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Did I mention luck?

There is no small amount of good fortune in remaining twenty years at one company. That in itself is comparable to finding a seat in every round of musical chairs conducted by a liar. Yes, talent and hard work should out, but as I am fond of telling my 2 year old…deserves got nothin’ to do with it8 It’s about the bottom line. Always.

Janovy had a great run and, better yet, has picked a good time to go.

While VVM’s Back Page is expected to ring up about $3 million in revenue this year, that’s merely a tenth of what CraigsList will generate, and that disparity will continue to grow. Add the fact that VVM writers often lop off their own, er…appendages to the shriek of million dollar a year losses and, well, things don’t look so hot, monetarily speaking.

Also, in case you missed it, earlier this year the Bank of Montreal-fronted syndicate, VVM‘s banker,  declared VVM in default on their $77 million loan. Since that time B of M has been collecting all monies earned by the VVM chain9 into a “special account,” so as to protect the syndicate’s interests. This despite a prior California Superior Court decision that ordered half  SF Weekly’s advertising revenues diverted into an independent bank account, and placed a lien on VVM‘s interests in its subsidiaries to protect the Bay Guardian’s interests.

You see where this could be headed, right?

Quite probably bankruptcy court, with the hyenas lawyers savaging the corpse. Even if VVM welshes on its debt and successfully settles all lawsuits, jackal lawyer fees alone will be sufficient to continue the downsizing trend the Pitch initiated last year or the weekly’s outright sale. Which may be just the opening the upstart KC Free Press needs to slice out a larger market share. 10

All in all, tough times ahead.

However, nothing will happen overnight.

The Pitch will continue onward; lawsuits take for-evvvvvvvvvvvvvver. And unless the imaginary people I’ve been talking to are having me on (or an outside pick from Denver flies in), a local product, one Scott Wilson, seems to have the “inside track” for CJ’s old job. Apple of corporate’s eye, talented and all that. Common folk think he would do well.

The Pitch’s 30 year celebration will kick off in July with (in all probability) CJ handing the blue pencil over to Wilson 11.

Longer term?

Well, let’s just say that CJ couldn’t have picked a better time for a career change. Good luck to her.

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Further reading on the topic can be done here and here.

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  1. Village Voice Media, also owner of The Pitch.
  2. Duh.
  3. Chancery, for those of you not Latin legal scholars, means to muse for a protracted length of time, yea, verily even through supper and then dinner; to muse until the cows come home and then to muse some more.
  4. The Pitch, SF Weekly, New Times, OC Nude Weekly, Back Page, et al.
  5. Just kidding about the  Nude Weekly – stay awake!
  6. Uh…so, like, they used to.
  7. Or wannabes; that’s right, isn’t it lil’ A…
  8. I find myself quoting from that movie more and more these days. Before I know it I’ll run out and by a Henry rifle. For varmints and such…
  9. Yes, Virginia, that DOES include earnings from The Pitch
  10. Kudos and good luck to Ms Farris in her new position. We trust this means she can now afford to move out of her van?
  11. Or…someone. I mean, these things change. Who knows?

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