(WBIR) A big part of the print media in Knoxville is officially no more. At least, not in its current form.
Wednesday afternoon, the staff of the weekly Metro Pulse newspaper announced it was laid off. The free alternative weekly newspaper started in August 1991.
News of the closure quickly spread over social media as Metro Pulse tweeted at 1:17 p.m. Wednesday, "Hey! We all just got laid off! Thanks, @knoxnews and @EWScrippsCo!"
"This is entirely awful for everyone involved," said former art director Travis Gray, who worked at the paper until last week. "It is truly the end of local long form journalism in Knoxville."
The Knoxville News Sentinel also announced on its websitethat it was laying off 23 employees, which included the Metro Pulse staff. The KNS article states, "Metro Pulse will be merged with Knoxville.com, the paper's Friday entertainment section," but does not say if the merger will retain the Metro Pulse name.
Metro Pulse started back on August 19, 1991, as a bi-weekly free newspaper with a focus on entertainment. In 1995 the Metro Pulse began weekly publications and became an influential part of Knoxville's cultural and music scene.
"What Metro Pulse always did was look for things that weren't being written about, stories that weren't being told," said the paper's former editor Jesse Mayshark. "Poked into dark, dusty corners and dug out a lot of interesting things about Knoxville's history."
At local radio station WDVX, the staff says the Metro Pulse has been a true community newspaper that played a big role in covering and promoting Knoxville events.
"We depend on them to help us get the word out, as well as a lot of our local venues and musicians depend on Metro Pulse," said Red Hickey, host of the WDVX Blue Plate Special. "It's a huge loss to this station and the community. Not just for music or events, but the paper has great writers like Jack Neely who have helped teach us so much about this area's history and make you proud to live in East Tennessee."
One of the most popular editions of the Metro Pulse focuses on the most popular locations around Knoxville. The annual "Best of Knoxville" tallied readers choices for items ranging from their favorite restaurants, doctors, and local television programs.
UT journalism students who looked up to the paper as "a different publication" say this loss hurts in many ways.
"To realize that a close-to-home organization shut down with a snap of a finger," said R.J. Vogt. "A little less interesting. In fact, Knoxville is now a lot less interesting."
E.W. Scripps Co., which owns the Knoxville News Sentinel, acquired the Metro Pulse along with Knoxville Magazine in 2007.
Knoxville Magazine and Blount Today - a weekly newspaper also owned by Scripps - were closed in late 2011.
Metro Pulse employees have been told not to talk to the media about the merger or their layoffs. Doing so could potentially risk receiving their severance pay.