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Charleston City Paper under new ownership

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Charleston City Paper is under new ownership for the first time in its 22-year history.

The weekly alternative newspaper was purchased by City Paper Publishing LLC, a partnership of Georgetown lawyer and Charleston School of Law President Ed Bell and Charleston-based publisher Andy Brack.

Brack publishes the online Statehouse Report policy forecast and Charleston Currents and writes a weekly syndicated column that appears in the City Paper; he will serve as the paper’s new publisher, taking over from co-founder Noel Mermer.

“This is exciting news for our community because it will allow an experienced local ownership team to take the reins of what has become Charleston’s ... news outlet for students and young families who want the best local information on arts, culture, music and more,” Mermer said in a news release.

Neither Brack nor Mermer returned voicemails left for them by press time.

Mermer founded Charleston City Paper in 1997 with advertising director Blair Barna and former editor Stephanie Barna. Blair Barna will remain advertising director, according to the news release, and Mermer and Stephanie Barna will serve as consultants to the newspaper.

“Our job is to continue to give an award-winning news publication to area readers that engages them with what’s happening in the Lowcountry and provides community-oriented journalism that will connect them more closely to what’s happening here,” Brack said in the release.

Bell said Charleston City Paper provides a valuable public service to the Charleston area and he looks forward to ensuring that the paper continues to provide content “that will inform readers about what’s happening — out in the open and behind closed doors.”

Bell is also a co-owner of Garden & Gun magazine, a Charleston-based national publication focused on the South.

Mermer, Blair Barna and Stephanie Barna wrote in a column that running Charleston City Paper and being a part of “Charleston’s modern renaissance” for the past 20 years “was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“Selling our scrappy little newspaper to new owners has not been an easy decision to make,” the trio wrote. “Over the years, we’ve had plenty of offers to purchase the newspaper, but none of them felt quite as right as that of Andy Brack and Ed Bell.”

They added that their reasons for selling “are more personal than anything else, as life’s challenges have come our way.”

Mermer shared in a column last year that he had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, the more commonly known name for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

According to the release, Charleston City Paper has more than 110,000 readers weekly in print and reaches over 1 million users every month through its website and social media platforms.

“Having Ed and Andy at the helm provides outstanding stability for the City Paper’s dedicated team of professionals and for loyal readers who dive into the paper every Wednesday to learn what’s happening and just plain cool,” Mermer said.

Reach Patrick Hoff at 843-849-3144.

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