After the University of Nevada, Las Vegas announced last fall that it would stop publishing The Believer, the venerable literary magazine now has a new owner.
The journal, which for nearly two decades published acclaimed fiction and essays under the McSweeney banner before being sold to UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute five years ago, is now owned by Paradise Media, a digital marketing company headquartered in Puerto Rico. Paradise bought the magazine for $225,000 in cash, according to a corporate purchase letter of intent released after a public records request. Vice’s tech vertical, Motherboard, was the first to report the story.
Paradise took over ownership and oversight of all content on April 1; the transfer is expected to be finalized this month. The latest issue of The Believer under the Black Mountain Institute, No. 139, was published in March.
The purchase comes after UNLV abruptly announced in October that it would stop producing the Believer, citing a “strategic realignment within the college and [Black Mountain Institute] as seen in the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The news follows a series of allegations against the magazine’s former editor, Joshua Wolf Shenk, in the months after he was exposed to staff during a video meeting last year. He resigned in March 2020. A Times investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic work environment uncovered complaints about Shenk’s leadership even before he arrived at Black Mountain in 2015. It also confirmed that Shenk had done the subject of at least one Title IX complaint to UNLV.
Public records released by UNLV also included McSweeney’s offer letter to buy out the magazine, which was founded in 2003 and purchased by the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute, official name of BMI, in 2017 .
The letter, signed by McSweeney President Brian Dice and dated January 5, 2022, proposed to create one paid college year internship and two full-time paid summer internships for students in the creative writing program at the ‘UNLV; arranging visits by McSweeney-affiliated staff, poets, and writers to UNLV; and review college student submissions to Believer and McSweeney’s quarterly. Dice also asked UNLV to cover financial liability for unfilled Believer subscriptions.
The letter does not include a financial offer.
In a statement to The Times, UNLV said it “has carefully considered its options. The sale of the publication’s assets was the result of a competitive bidding process and after consideration the best financial decision was made for BMI and its continuing mission.
“UNLV has received two offers to acquire the assets of The Believer,” he continued. “Paradise Media offered $225,000, with UNLV covering financial responsibility for unfilled subscriptions. McSweeney’s requested that the assets be granted to them free of charge and that UNLV also cover the financial liability of any unfulfilled subscriptions with an overall net loss to the university.
Dice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The sale took effect on December 23, 2021 and was signed in early February by Ian Moe, CEO of Paradise Media; Jennifer Keene, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UNLV; and Chris Heavey, provost and executive vice president of the university.
As first reported by Gawker Earlier this week, a former Believer staffer tweeted his concerns about a clickbait article titled “25 best dating sites for flings, new dates, and casual hookups” on the website. of the magazine. The piece has since been removed.
A group called Sex Toy Collective, which is owned by Paradise Media, responded in a tweet that has since been deleted: “Hi this is the new owner of the Believer. We bought the website to keep the archives. Our goal is to bring the magazine back, but since it was losing tens of thousands of people a month, we need to make money for it using SEO, and then use that to bring back all the original authors.