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City Link, Alt-Weekly Published by Sun-Sentinel and Tribune Company, to Fold, Sources Say

City Link, the weekly newspaper published by the Sun-Sentinel and its parent, Tribune Company, is expected to cease publication within the coming weeks, current and former employees tell New Times.

The paper has been in steady decline for years. Hard news largely disappeared from its pages as they became filled with listings and short feature articles geared toward a young audience. The paper was once reproduced in part on a website called Metromix but never made a strong transition to the web. Most recently, it has been published online at citylinkmix.com.

The Sun-Sentinel first launched its free weekly paper as XS in the 1990s. The Sun-Sentinel bought the competing alt-weekly, iCE, in 1993, and merged the two papers, renaming the result City Link in 1997.

In recent years, problems have loomed not only within City Link but at its parent company as well. Tribune was bought out in 2007 by billionaire real-estate mogul Sam Zell in what turned out to be a disastrous move. One year later, the company filed bankruptcy. Proceedings are ongoing.

The timing of the bankruptcy coincided with the start of a national recession and layoffs at journalism outlets around the country. A slew of City Link employees were let go in 2008. Longtime columnist T.M. Shine chronicled his experience in a Washington Post Magazine article titled "Terminated" -- which read like a Kafkaesque dark comedy.

Today, staff answering phones in the publishing and advertising sales departments at City Link would not answer questions about the paper, instead referring calls to spokesperson Mary Helen Olenjnik, who did not immediately return a message. Publisher Justo Rey did not immediately respond to an email.

Many South Florida journalists got their start at City Link (and a fair number of them circled through New Times as well). Says former art director W. Kelley Lucas: "I worked at City Link in one capacity or another from 1991 to 2006. In its heyday, the magazine was an integral part of the community and the arts and music scene. It had a real soul to it that came from the pack of lunatics that were employed there.

Once the suits decided to pander to a younger demographic, Editor Jake Cline was unable to find a foothold in catering to the kids and the rag fell into a tailspin."

The paper limped along until this year. Associate Editor Dan Sweeney left several months ago, although he continues to be listed on the masthead as a staff writer and has contributed articles to the Sun-Sentinel. We hear that some employees may be absorbed into Tribune operations and perform duties for the Sentinel as well as other properties such as the Forum newspaper.

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Here at New Times, we're in a little bit of mourning for our comrades -- though we know they'll all go on to bigger and brighter things. See you guys at Maguires!

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