D Magazine Ends Its Oak Cliff Experiment, Kills Oak Cliff People

When I wrote D magazine's mini-chain of community newspapers, for all of a year in 2009 and 2010, Oak Cliff People was the plum assignment. (Stuff was happening in North Oak Cliff -- stuff that wasn't the absurd residential zoning disputes of Preston Hollow or round 1,038 of the Snider Plaza parking wars in the Park Cities.) The place was in flux, bursting with creative energy, gentrifying but not yet gentrified and filled with all the excitement and conflicts that go along with that process.

That appears to be what D publisher Wick Allison was trying to tap into when he started the paper in 2006, and why Oak Cliff People survived the cuts a couple of years later that whittled down his community newspaper empire from nine or so publications to just three, though one can never be sure just what exactly is traipsing through Wick's mind. It was partly a way to burnish D's urban credentials, partly to gain an early foothold in a neighborhood that was quickly becoming the next big thing.

The experiment is over. Oak Cliff People announced on its blog this morning that this week's edition will be its last. The notice did not make the print edition, because the decision "was not made until after the paper was printed."

In the end, the paper died from financial causes. Businesses in North Oak Cliff never had much motivation to advertise, because most of the neighborhoods' residents already knew they were there. Meanwhile, businesses from other parts of town could never quite get over the negative stereotypes that are familiar to anyone who's ever heard the "Oak Cliff oh."

"As much as we love the community and tried, the revenue generated from this publication was not enough to sustain it," publisher Patricia Martin said.

The paper has always been a loss leader and was doomed to eventually fall to Wick's ax. The reason it's happening now likely has less to do with the publication's balance sheet than the fact that the papers in Preston Hollow and the Park Cities are no longer making enough to continue propping it up.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson