Charleston Post & Courier buys Free Times


I heard the rumor a couple of weeks ago and started poking around, and just now got confirmation from the most reliable of sources:


Yes, we just closed on the Free Times in Columbia!  We are putting out a press release as I am sending this.  We are super excited about the acquisition and look forward to growing in the Columbia market!


P.J. Browning


The Post and Courier

This is good news, following on the most terrible of news. In the wake of Charlie Nutt’s shocking death, I had worried about what would become of the alternative weekly and my friends who work there.

It’s good to know that an outfit as steady and successful as the P&C will now be publishing the paper.

6 thoughts on “Charleston Post & Courier buys Free Times

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s a couple of key items of interest from the news story at The Post and Courier:

    Chris Ratliff has been named publisher and advertising director. Ratliff has more than 15 years of media industry experience, most recently as advertising director for the Salisbury Post newspaper in North Carolina.

    Also, Andy Shain has been named editor of the Free Times. Shain has nearly 30 years of experience as an editor and reporter. Most recently, he was the politics, government and higher education reporter for The State newspaper in Columbia. In his new role, Shain also becomes editor of, a political news website created by The Post and Courier.

  2. Phillip

    Oh boy, I hope it doesn’t change too much, hope it retains the feel of an alt-weekly, and not just on the surface.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, we all have our own different things we look to a newspaper for.

      For my part, I appreciated the way Free Times had been stepping up on basic mainstream news coverage in recent years. The “alternative” part wasn’t the best part for me.

      Although I did appreciate that.

      One of my favorite Free Times memories… Back 10 or 12 years ago, a band my elder son was in was getting ready to play New Brookland Tavern. Just before the show, I was at a cafe down the street from it, and happened to read about the coming gig in Free Times.

      The paper described the new band as a Columbia “supergroup,” as its members had all played earlier in bands that were popular on the local scene. (In my son’s case, he had been one of the Megameants, which you would definitely remember if you followed the punk scene in Columbia.)

      I thought that was cool, seeing my son portrayed as one of a “supergroup,” a la Cream…

  3. Phillip

    For sure FT did do some excellent news and political reporting, especially on state and local issues, in recent years, and I also hope that continues. But by “alternative” I don’t just mean the coverage of local and regional bands (certainly thorough and enthusiastic) or those ads near the back of the paper. I mean that FT covered the Columbia arts scene in general in a way that the State did not in the past few years: classical music, new music, visual arts, theater, and more. In many ways I think that reflected the extremely eclectic interests of Dan Cook as editor; what’s more, I think FT actually contributed substantially to the cross-fertilization we’ve seen to some extent in the arts community here. People whose main interest might be music nevertheless got to learn something about the visual arts scene here; people whose primary interest might be art got clued in to some of what has been happening in the theater scene here; and so on.

    I don’t know Andy Shain, but while the political reporting aspect of the paper may get stronger still (which is fine), I hope he keeps a balance to the paper.

  4. Mark Stewart

    I would look at this and think does the Post & Courier want a beachhead in Columbia, or does the paper want to become more like the FT for Charleston?

    The answer is probably both; and therefore bad news for The State, all in all. But good for everyone else.

  5. Doug Ross

    Larry Wilmore’s comedy routine at the White House Correspondents dinner generated some buzz. The jokes targeted at specific media outlets didn’t exactly get big laughs from the room:

    “I gotta be careful picking on you, though, Mr. President. Couple years ago during this dinner, you were like killing Osama bin Laden. Remember that? Who you killing tonight? Can’t be print journalism; that industry’s been dead for awhile now, right? Sorry. I’m just kidding. Shout out to the print media. No, really, you have to shout, they’re like all over 70 now.”


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