UPDATE: This post was updated at 10:40 p.m. to include new information and comments.
The Seattle Weekly is being sold, according to a source who claims to be familiar with the arrangement, but some of those involved deny certain details while others refuse to comment altogether.
The story began earlier today some 800 miles south of Seattle. At a staff meeting of the SF Newspaper Company, CEO Todd Vogt reportedly told employees "that he has bought the SF Weekly and Seattle Weekly (to be sold to the Seattle Times right after the sale)," according to the source who was in that meeting.
However, the Seattle Times Company denies that they are the buyers. Seattle Times executive editor David Boardman says he "does not know of" such a deal, and Jill Mackie, who speaks for the company on business matters, says that while "we generally try not to comment on rumors," there is no reason to contradict Boardman's comment.
Meanwhile, when asked for comment on rumors that he was buying the Seattle Weekly, Vogt replied somewhat cryptically. "I'm not sure what you have heard or from who. I don't have any comment on what you have asked," he wrote.
Still, Vogt is expected to buy a weekly paper very soon.
It has been reported that Vogt, whose company also owns the Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Examiner, intends to purchase another newspaper in that media market. (The East Bay Express has since insisted it is not for sale and the Chronicle seems a highly unlikely purchase, so speculation abounded that Vogt's eye was on the SF Weekly.) That seems likely given that both the Seattle Weekly and SF Weekly have been owned by Village Voice Media, which has sought to unload some of its properties after decoupling from the embattled Backpage.com.
"VVM is looking to dump some of its losers," the source says.
The source also says that VVM would only sell the SF Weekly to Vogt if he also bought the Seattle Weekly, so Vogt reportedly purchased both newspapers with intentions to sell Seattle Weekly to someone else. (As a caveat: In December, Vogt told the SF Appeal that he planned to imminently purchase another publication, and that was nearly three weeks ago. So who knows?)
Asked if the Seattle Weekly was being sold to the Seattle Times Company, Seattle Weekly editor Mike Seely says by e-mail, without being specific, "Your information is inaccurate." But asked point blank if the paper had been sold—to anyone—and what information was inaccurate, he refused to answer. "You've got what I'm willing to put on the record," he wrote in a rejoinder.
He also said my original post was "sloppy" and I didn't give him enough time to reply by e-mail.
Still, the source insists this is a "done deal," but nothing will be announced until the morning. There have been rumors among local media insiders that Sound Publishing, which owns a string of newspapers that cater to smaller and suburban markets, was also a possible buyer.
Given the Seattle Times's pretty clear statements, it appears that the Times is not the buyer. But given Vogt's and Seely's lack of specificity—they haven't denied that the Seattle Weekly is being sold—I can't help but wonder if some other publisher does plan on buying the paper. I'll update this as I hear more, whether it's debunking the whole rumor or specifying what I hear.
UPDATE on JAN 9: The buyer is indeed Sound Publishing.