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Covid-19 and shutdowns claim another Minnesota business: City Pages

Back in March, Gov. Walz closed Minnesota’s bars and restaurants to help slow the spread of Covid-19. May saw four nights of rioting following the death in police custody of George Floyd, which city and state authorities failed miserably to confront, that left large sections of the Twin Cities – especially lower income neighborhoods with minority and immigrant populations – devastated.

It is old news, now, that these circumstances have been brutal for Minnesota’s businesses. Now they have claimed another victim: City Pages.

This morning, Star Tribune Media Co., which owns City Pages, announced that the magazine, which recently carried an in-depth critique of Kirk Cousins’ fashion sense and was forced to apologize for an article and series of tweets laughing about President Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis:

…will permanently cease operations effective today. 

The Star Tribune reports:

In July, City Pages produced its annual “Best Of” issue that was popular with readers and usually stuffed with advertising. But it warned that some of its “Best of” awards were already out of date. “Due to COVID-19, the uprising, or the uncertainty in the aftermath of both, we’ve lost plenty of beloved businesses — for now or forever — that might otherwise be here today,” an introduction to the feature said.

Aside from the #wokery of calling a riot that targeted minority and immigrant areas an “uprising”, it seems that City Pages could see the writing on the wall. Today’s statement explained that:

…months of quarantines, restrictions, and closures arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted the restaurants, clubs, theaters, museums, and other venues that form the core of City Pages’ revenue. 

“As you can imagine, the current economic climate for City Pages advertisers has turned from unfavorable to unfeasible,” said Paul Kasbohm, chief revenue officer of the Star Tribune. “Since City Pages revenue is 100% driven by advertisers and events—and those investments have dropped precipitously—there’s no reasonable financial scenario that would enable us to continue operations in the face of this pandemic. Unfortunately, we foresee no meaningful recovery of these sectors or their advertising investments in the near future, leaving us no other options than to close City Pages.”

This is horrible news for the magazine’s staff, all of whose positions will be eliminated, according to the statement. But it suggests two more reasons for wider concern.

First, the closure of City Pages illustrates the knock on effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures taken by the government in response. Gov. Walz closed bars and restaurants, not magazines. But magazines and other businesses which do business with those establishments will continue to feel the strain as they operate below capacity.

Second, in its statement, the Star Tribune Media Co. claims to “foresee no meaningful recovery of these sectors or their advertising investments in the near future”. Covid-19 and the measures taken by government have not finished wreaking their havoc.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 

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