Four former City Pages editors are set to launch a new alternative news website later this month.
The team behind Racket announced Monday that it will debut Aug. 18. The site describes the venture as a "writer-owned, reader-funded source for news, arts, and culture," and touts a large stable of freelance writers with a quartet of City Pages veterans at the helm.
City Pages was abruptly shut down by its former owner, the Star Tribune, in October of 2020, with the chief executive of Star Tribune Media describing the popular 40-year-old news source as "economically unviable" in the wake of the pandemic wreaking havoc on the Twin Cities events scene.
Racket, on its website, promises readers: "No bosses, some biases," and also takes a shot at the current media ownership model: "The Star Tribune is owned by a billionaire. The Pioneer Press is owned by a hedge fund. Racket is owned by four ex-City Pages editors who live in Minneapolis."
The four ex-editors in question should be familiar to City Pages readers: Jessica Armbruster, Jay Boller, Em Cassel and Keith Harris.
“We need more alternative publications that are incisive and insightful and hold truth to power in a way that’s also entertaining,” said Cassel, City Pages' first (and only) female editor in chief, in a news release. "We love this city. We want to support its people – its working class, its artists and creatives – while keeping its leaders accountable."
Boller spoke with Cathy Wurzer on MPR Monday morning, saying the new venture is "going to be very close" in spirit to what City Pages did.
"We know how to do the job because we've done the job," Boller noted.
He also cited reader demand for "a type of news that doesn't really fit the boilerplate definition of what a newspaper sounds like," describing the outlet-to-be as a "pesky force" beholden to no one.
It will be "majority" reader-funded, Boller told Wurzer.
Readers can buy three subscription levels, the cheapest being $50 a year or $5 a month for unlimited page views. Double that payment and users will get commenting privileges, a bonus newsletter, early info on and access to events and more.
The $99-a-month (or $999-a-year) subscription includes "Wall of Frame inclusion" and an invite to its annual VIP party.
Preceding Racket's official debut will be a launch party, set for Aug. 12 at Fair State Brewing.