New Asheville City Paper to feature Cecil Bothwell

The Columbia, S.C., alternative newsweekly City Paper has announced plans to publish the Asheville City Paper, a new publication that will appear monthly at first and plans to print twice a month as early as next Spring. Former Mountain Xpress writer and editor Cecil Bothwell is a business partner in the venture and will run the news desk, according to a statement from City Paper posted at Bothwell’s blog and on Ashvegas.

“The Asheville City Paper, targeting an 18-45 liberal demographic, will feature hard-hitting investigative journalism and will cover national politics, local news and music,” the statement says. “Additionally, the paper will feature nationally syndicated columns from Ted Rall and Dan Savage. Comics will include Red Meat, Perry Bible Fellowship, Get Your War On and Strip Wax. Like Columbia City Paper, the Asheville edition will also feature original humor in sections like Letters to the Reader and Gov. Easley’s horoscopes.”

Ashvegas adds further information by sharing an e-mail from City Paper Managing Editor Todd Morehead. The message reads, in part: “A truncated, pre-Cecil version hit the streets yesterday. It’s basically just a 12 page preview of the national columnists and tone of the paper. We’ll release a normal 24 to 28 page edition in early December and keep it monthly until we build up enough revenue to release every other week (most likely by Spring). We’re all super excited and Cecil already has a gutsy investigative piece in the works that he says Mountain Xpress was ‘too timid’ to publish.”

— Jon Elliston, managing editor


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About Jon Elliston
Former Mountain Xpress managing editor Jon Elliston is the senior editor at WNC magazine.

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39 thoughts on “New Asheville City Paper to feature Cecil Bothwell

  1. Gordon Smith

    So Mountain Xpress fires the Best Writer in WNC (as named in their own paper mere days before the sacking), and now y’all have got an honest-to-God alternative weekly to compete with. Since the Xpress has tacked to the center politically, there’s plenty of room for a real alt paper to the left.


  2. Having created and published papers in Asheville (albeit not recently) I can tell you it’s a hard row to hoe. The Asheville market is unlike any other I’ve ever been involved with. The EXPRESS is to be congratulated that it has lasted this long. Any new paper better have a lot of working capital if it wants to survive long enough to become viable.

    In short, I don’t think there’s much room in the area for a new paper. Not enough slice of available advertising revenue remaining on the table.

  3. ashevillian

    Maybe this is the reason Xpress fired Cecil to start with…. conflict of interest?

    Look forward to a little competition among the local “independent” press!

    Should be a real HOOT when local elections roll around again!

  4. ashvegas

    it astonishes me that start-ups still think in terms of the paper product. i agree with Ralph – not much pie left to slice up for print, but online, there’s untold potential to tap.

  5. Right, Ashevegas… I’ve been a print publisher for over 30 years but we’re shifting a LOT of our effort into web and video for quite obvious reasons, the low requirements for and low usage of capital one of them. It takes me $20,000 or so to launch a trade paperback into the national market but I can do a DVD for well less than a 10th of that!

    I LOVES advances in technology but us dinosaurs gotta recognize them and change or we become petroleum, eh?

  6. As a freelance writer, this is an exciting time. More venues in this market means that more work for me is seemingly inevitable. However, I’m trying to figure out how to put a leftish spin on a Toubab Krewe article and it makes my head spin.

    Also, I think that the market is way too small for another weekly. I suppose that this paper will compete more with the Tribune than with the Xpress. All I can say is that I wish the best of luck to the paper, but (at the risk of sounding like a suck-up) the Xpress is still the paper I’ll pick up first.

  7. 21Yearshere

    On the one hand, people are giving hell to someone who wrote in a letter that they are giving up on Asheville and moving to Greenville……..on the other hand people are welcoming an alternative weekly franchise from COLUMBIA?? The streetcorners are already crowded with paper, the Revenge of Bothwell will bring more. Great…

  8. Orbit DVD

    I’m in total agreement with Ralph. Speaking as a small business owner, my advertising budget is stretched thin, and most of that budget is in print publications. I like everyone that I’ve met doing them, but I just cannot spend the money on a market that I considered over-saturated. Talking with dozens of other small businesses, I know that a majority of them are in the same boat.

    There is one exception. I was blown away by the recent THREAD publication, and we are going to try to do what we can to support them.


  9. Gordon Smith


    Am I wrong about the Xpress tacking to the center? I’ve been reading for a lot of years, and it seems to me that the Xpress is working hard to appeal to a larger swath of readers. This means moving into a more centrist place, I reckon.

    The City Paper will get the AGR readers + the Xpress readers who miss the edgier days of yore.

  10. Gordon, what’s wrong with a paper that stays in the center and fairly covers both sides?

    Swerving to the extremes of right or left just puts you in the ditch.

    Jason, WELL PUT! ;-)

  11. Gordon Smith

    Y’all are acting like I said there was something wrong with tacking to the center. There’s not. It’s a business and editorial decision, and I’m not one to try run another man’s weekly.

    I’m saying that if we want more liberal and alternative voices in our press, then we need another outlet for that.

    Jason’s sanctimony while talking about sanctimonious news outlets is beautiful parody.

  12. Gordon, I’m more smug than sanctimonious.

    I leave the sanctimony for those of us who have better things to do and bigger websites to pimp.

    I leave sanctimony for those of us who believe it’s their charge to educate us in the common herd to what they believe is right, and then when I ask who’s right they have the gall to say to me “We’re right.”

    I’m perfectly happy with just being smug. It keeps the mood light, and saves me from the inevitable embarrassment that happens when I get shown up in a public forum.

    With that being said, did you take any pictures of my front lawn today, you old sailor you?

  13. Jon Elliston


    Yes, you are wrong about Xpress tacking in any one direction. We’re not running for election — we’re running a newspaper.

    So rest assured, we continue to have the left flank, right flank and vital center covered. We do the high altitude and the low opening, and are fully equipped for both day and night-time operations, which we conduct in both rural and urban settings.

    I can understand your conjecture. I, too, once spent a lot of time playing that tacky parlor game Pigeonhole Xpress. It was a fun game for a while, but I kept losing at it: Every time I had some tidy notion about what the Xpress does, the newspaper confounded my expectations.

    And so it continues to. Have y’all seen the latest issue of Xpress? I’m looking at it right now, and what I see includes: scads of passionate, thoughtful letters from readers from all over the spectrum; insightful commentaries about the drought and Diwali, the Indian festival of lights; in-depth reports on soil and water conservation, the Asheville housing market, the ongoing CTS site contamination controversy and how the WNC Veterans Memorial might carry a poem that many view as authoritarian; and quick but meaty reports on an immigration forum, local newspaper distribution, the Asheville Film Fest, a concrete-crushing initiative by RiverLink, a local spa that’s giving free care to veterans, two cyclists who are collecting “Jokes Across America,” etc.

    Whew! And that’s just the first 20 pages of a 92-page issue. I could go on and on, but it’s probably easier if you pick one up today and see what everyone is reading about. Some of it lands at or near the center, some falls on the fringes — but it’s all good.

    And we’ve just wrapped up the next issue, which hits the stands Wednesday and will, I’m pretty certain, likewise confound Pigeonhole players.

    Thanks for reading and writing,

    Jon Elliston
    Managing Editor

  14. “…I’m saying that if we want more liberal and alternative voices in our press, then we need another outlet for that. …”

    Gordon, I’m saying we do not need either of the big national parties mucking about in our affairs.

    We need more REASONABLE voices and less partisan voices.

  15. chalkbox

    Ok, Ok Jon,
    The Mtn Xpress is still a good paper. I sware I’ll pick up this week.

  16. Nam Vet

    I agree with Ralph. I don’t think Asheville can support another free leftwing rag. I have a good friend who runs a small business downtown. I can assure you she will not spend precious advertising money in both of these publications. She’ll stay with the one that has a proven track record, the Xpress. I didn’t know Cecil, but evidently he has a lot of friends. Sorry he lost his job. But a revenge newspaper will only have an appeal for so long. I think it will be gone within the year.

  17. Orbit DVD

    “Heck, Mt X is printing my stuff. What could be edgier?”

    Apparently not edgy enough. City Paper has a feature called “Bum of the Week.”


  18. Gordon Smith

    To quickly do away with the idea that CityPaper is a “revenge newspaper” – CityPaper had already planned on expanding into this market. Cecil’s precipitous departure from Mtn. Xpress (as yet unexplained) was a boon to the CityPaper publishers.

    I think there is room for everyone, but we’ll see!

  19. ahem

    Everyone will be less excited when they realize all they are reading is syndicated material. The Columbia City Paper has less than one page of music coverage — and that’s in their home base of Columbia. Judging from their PDFs of their most recent issue, it looks light on ads — they’re going to get bled dry here.

  20. Nathan

    As a freelance photographer, This is the kind of thing that will help me. but in all honesty, the market is dried up for new ventures in the the old world. Asheville just isnt large enough in the right ways to support a new publication. Especially the small/sprawl publications like MntnX and City Paper, etc. while i love anit corporate and small scale, funding is going to run scarce, while tried and true MNTN X has been around long enough to keep the advertisers paying and satisfied. anyway, Regardless good luck to all new endevors

  21. John (one month here)

    I can’t help but notice “21yearshere” first comments on Mountain Xpress message boards ever were on November 12, 2007. (with a total of three negative comments on a paper that ceases to exist.)

    City Paper already has a hater and I’ve never even seen an issue. How is this possible?

    With a “Creative Loafing” reference, I think you are probably someone jealous in the biz. Hate your boss “21yearshere” ?

    Are you a sad man working for corporate media somewhere?

  22. spotthetrend

    You can find the Columbia City Paper’s PDFs of their publication here:

    It looks like an interesting paper, though a little heavy on ranting.
    I thought it was funny they included a “Worst of” awards, and wondered how it went over with the local businesses that were featured. Then I saw another article posted the month before the “Worst of” awards came out by a Columbia TV station about local businesses asking the City Paper to stop distributing in their places of business. See if you see a trend here:

    Posted on 10/22, on the WLTX website:

    “(West Columbia) – A Columbia newspaper is causing controversy with content that some are calling highly offensive, and now one area business [Zesto’s] is taking a stand against the publication…”
    “Other establishments that have made that decision in the past include Capital News and Maps, Bey’s Sports Bar, Pop’s Pizza, Wild Wings in the Vista, Keg O’Nails, Delaney’s, the Saloon, Revente, El Burrito, and Speakeasy.”
    Now, a selection from the City Paper’s Worst of awards, published last week:

    Worst Family Atmosphere: Zestos
    Worst theme bar: Saloon
    Worst Bartender: Ryan (formerly of Speakeasy)
    Worst Wings Joint: Wild Wings in The Vista
    Worst Pizza Parlor: Pop’s Pizza
    Worst News Stand : Capitol City News & Maps 2
    Distribute or else!

  23. R Bernier


    Im glad to see you here & read your thoughts. I would think if their is really a need for this paper then maybe they should give it a try on local radio.

    This would be fun to see if they could make it on air here in WNC.

  24. Paul Blake

    Holy smokes!
    Thanks to Mountain X for the buzz…all we ever get in Columbia, S.C. are things like “Shi$%y Paper” from jealous newspapers, but I already knew Xpress was better than that.

    As for Asheville City Paper, it isn’t a “franchise”. It is set up as an employee owned North Carolina LLC which means it is as local as Cecil Bothwell himself. I don’t know what happened at Xpress but it is not uncommon for people to work 17 years at a company and leave with nothing more than a stapler. Considering it is my home and car at risk, the sweat equity is a unique and generous offer that one would only find at a locally owned 5 person operation.

    I’m relocating to Asheville because I fell in love with the area and I really don’t care if you liked my favorite band before me as well.

    We are also quite reasonable when it comes to a business deciding not to carry our newspaper.
    The stories behind the businesses listed above that ban us….are all related to newsworthy stories that implicate those business owners in unfair or shady dealings.
    For example Pop’s Pizza
    or Speakeasy
    And there’s about 10 other locations that ban the paper and have not been mentioned in “Worst of”…..el burrito, revente, sid & nancy, delaneys, carolina wings, ec.
    These are business owners that have made a moral decision not to carry the paper and I personally still frequent many of these establishments. (at least the ones I’m physically allowed in) It is their right to refuse the paper and we never contest that. If they lie and make under the table deals… damn right we make fun of them.

    We are flattered at the concept that our little rag might be considered competition for the Mountain Xpress.
    Our web site isn’t even set up yet so at least give us a few issues before you hate on us.
    When you finally have a reason to hate us then my job is complete, but please give me a few years first.
    Finally, If Mountain Xpress is any nicer to us, I’ll have to send a nice fruit basket to Mr. Elliston.

    -Paul Blake

  25. I saw the first edition and I wasn’t really all that impressed.

    Maybe I should write for them as I did for the Chattanooga Weekly.

    Then I could promote on my radio show VIRATO LIVE! Saturdays 10 AM-1 PM on 880 AM.

  26. 21Yearshere

    Hey John, how are ya?

    A paper that “ceases to exist”? What does that mean? No, I’m not employed by corporate media, nor am I a man! I should have explained that I am very loyal to Mountain Xpress, but I didn’t judge Cecil Bothwell’s writing negatively, hey there’s room for lots of writers and the reader just has to be aware of their limitations and biases. As for only starting to comment in mid-November, you got me there, being middle aged I have a whole life I’ve devoted myself to and this interactive media thing, while fun, is still new to me.

    Sorry I didn’t explain myself better or introduce myself better. I hope to find the time to comment more regularly, because I am very interested in what happens in Asheville and fascinated by the attitude of newcomers that long-time institutions don’t meet their needs. When lots of you were in kindergarten, I was living here and grateful for every crumb of culture and community.

  27. Not a fan

    of the Columbia City paper and neither are many other businesses in the city (in fact it has been banned at many establishments for the use of gutter language and smear campaigns on local business people). I picked up a copy of The City Paper in Charleston SC and found it to be worthy of reading, so maybe yours will be more like that-guess it all depends on who is involved with this start up.

  28. Paul

    First off, thanks for keeping this thread alive. It is great exposure for our little local start up.

    I guess there’s no need to point out the hypocrisy of someone claiming we “smear” local businesses when in fact we would not exist without their overwhelming support. They are our primary source of ad revenue.

    We really don’t need the support of a business owner that burns a body and steals over half a million from an elderly woman. Or were you referring to the story in which three people benefit from $100,000 in St. Patty’s Day commissions? (a tax payer funded “charity” event)

    We are in the business of sharing facts and not smearing. You should try backing up your opinions with some. We leave the baseless smears to posts like yours and the one from the self described “middle aged” loyal Xpress reader. Thanks for proving there’s no room for an Alternative targeting a younger readership.

    Also, I have noticed through tracking IP addresses on that the readers that post negative comments come back 20X as often.
    We now have set up so feel free to bring your smear campaign over there. Perhaps you can read Savage Love just so you can express how offended you are. We love it when you folks boost our web hits and readership numbers. I have two words for those offended by City Paper…Thanks again!

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