Caution: Flammable

Mar 20, 2013 at 5:00 am

Strange things happen at bars after midnight. Take, for instance, the time I watched an inebriated fellow attempt to torch a LEO Weekly outside Nachbar on an unusually warm winter night in 2009.

The animated individual waved around a copy of the publication he’d picked up inside the Germantown watering hole, where he’d clearly been well served. At first, I opted against launching a full-scale defense, in part because I was unsure what he was complaining about (and because the scene was too amusing to interrupt). The only semi-coherent message I could decipher was that LEO had “sold out,” a phrase he kept repeating.

As the ranting continued — and despite knowing better than to attempt rational conversation with such a raving carouser — I pried a little to find out the specific source of such disdain. In response, he slurred something along the lines of, “It’s all glossy and shit.”

Wait, what? He was complaining because LEO had recently switched from being published on newsprint to glossy magazine paper. I attempted to reason with him, reiterating with increasing irritation: “The content is exactly the same!” and “Why are you averse to change?” and perhaps an ill-advised “You are an idiot!”

But this critic made it clear he was in no mood for debate when he pulled out a Bic and tried to light the LEO on fire. My wide-eyed disbelief turned to laughter, however, as the flame faltered. He tried lighting it ablaze again, but to no avail.

Turns out magazines don’t burn as easily as newspapers.

Well, I have good news for that drunken pyromaniac and other less hysterical critics of LEO’s fancy aesthetic (like the avid crossword puzzlers who oft complained about ink smudging on our shiny pages) — this issue marks LEO’s return to its gritty newsprint roots.

So here’s the story: Four years ago, a local, family-owned publishing company offered LEO a deal too good to refuse. They could print the publication using leftover rolls of “coated” stock (aka magazine paper) that would otherwise go to waste, and they could do so for less than we were already paying. In other words, we could get a nicer-looking product in an environmentally friendly manner and save money doing it.

Because LEO isn’t afraid to shake things up and, like any alt-weekly worth its weight in ink, isn’t deterred by the criticism that often accompanies change, we made the leap.

It’s with that same attitude that we once again embrace change. You see, that leftover magazine stock is no longer available, and the price to deliver our content on glossy paper has been steadily rising, with another drastic increase on the horizon. Rather than cut corners in crucial areas (like editorial resources) to remain on slick, fancy stock, we’re returning to good-old-fashioned newspaper.

Our move back to newsprint — which, as you can see, is brighter and higher-quality than the drab, shabby paper we used in our pre-glossy days — will allow us to continue putting our money where it matters: delivering intelligent and authoritative news, culture, criticism and commentary.

In other words, our appearance is changing, but the quality content remains.

Of course, some will scoff at the new look. A few bleak prognosticators might even predict this is a sure sign the end is nigh. It’s not. In fact, this switch will ensure not only that we keep on doing what we do, but it will also free up the necessary capital to make improvements in other areas, both in print and online. On that front, stay tuned.

LEO Weekly has been going strong now for nearly 23 years, evolving along the way to remain relevant and vital in an ever-changing media landscape. Through it all, the staff has remained dedicated to providing Louisville with the kind of smart, edgy and entertaining alt-weekly a city like this deserves.

In turn, readers have adapted as well, and for that, we thank you. As always, I expect and encourage you to let us know how we’re doing — that even goes for my little firebug nemesis from the Nachbar. Perhaps this is a change he can endorse. If not, at least he’ll be able to get this rag to go up in flames.