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'Call Us Scrappy': Little Village's New Publisher On The Iowa City Alt-weekly Expansion Into Des Moines

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

As quarantine dragged on and our physical worlds got smaller, the hunger for local news seemed to grow and at least one alt-weekly in Iowa is emerging from lockdown with a wider reach.

You may recognize alt-weeklies as the colorful newsprint found at grocery stores, inside restaurant doors or tucked underneath someone's arm. These hyper-local publications are full of personality, often with a particular perspective or political stance. They are compediums of news coverage, commentary and events; trying to put a finger on the ever-elusive pulse of a town and its people.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Iowa City-based Little Village's new Publisher Genevieve Trainor. She talks about the publication's recent announcementabout an expansion into Des Moines.

"I think that we have so many, so many opportunities we have such a rich diversity in our community, and I want to. I want everyone to feel as though they're represented in what we provide," Trainor said.

Later in the hour, we zoom out with some perspective on how alt-weeklies more broadly are doing as they exit the pandemic. Duc Luu is the vice president of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and is the publisher of the Washington City Paper.

He said the state of papers like his is better than they were going into the pandemic. He claimed City Paper grew its membership base to nearly 10 percent of its revenue source.

"We don't think these are donations. We think these are real memberships, where we're trying to build a community around this, a community of people that are really invested in local journalism and making sure that people have access to free local news for everyone," Luu said.


  • Genevieve Trainor, publisher of Little Village
  • Duc Luu, vice president of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and publisher and chief revenue officer of Washington City Paper
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa