What goes around comes around
When Connie Wimer sold Cityview to us five years ago, she did so in the same manner in which she has done most everything in her life — with class. The transaction was seamless, and Wimer made every effort to ensure that Cityview would be in good hands and that it would continue as Des Moines’ alternative newsweekly.
As part of the transaction, Wimer purposely and specifically included the rights to the “Best of Des Moines” readers’ poll in the agreement. She aggressively protected her legal rights to the poll name through the years, fending off large and small publishers alike. In the sake of openness, she requested that the Business Record, a publication she continued to own at the time, be provided a perpetual license of the poll so that she could continue to use it for that newspaper — and that newspaper alone — as had been done in the past. We courteously obliged and agreed to the contractual terms. The series of events that followed, however, left us stunned.
Wimer sold the Business Record and the remaining portion of her company, Business Publications Corp., to Ohio-based Brown Publishing Co. in 2007. With much of the same staff in place, and with Wimer still on the masthead as chairman, we assumed the company would operate as usual. But when the company announced a new readers’ poll connected with its elite social magazine DSM just a few months ago, we cried foul. In order to protect the franchise we purchased — and much like Wimer did previously — we pursued legal action. Our attorneys sent a cease and desist letter to Brown Publishing Co. offices in Cincinnati, but the response was less than favorable with something just short of “Eff You.” We considered filing an injunction but decided that any attention brought to this event would only help DSM’s limited readership. We called Wimer to express our disappointment, and we decided to share the details of this drama with each of our 75,000 weekly readers once the event was completed.
Meanwhile, we learned this past weekend that Brown Publishing Co. has filed for bankruptcy. Based on our experiences with them, we are not surprised. This series of events once again proves that local ownership of media is best, and that what goes around truly does come around. CV