LA Weekly is a free weekly alternative newspaper in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1978 by Jay Levin, who served as president and editor until 1991. Voice Media Group sold the paper in late 2017 to Semanal Media LLC.
It covers Los Angeles music, arts, film, theater, culture, concerts, and events. In 1979 they established the LA Weekly Theater Awards which awards small theatre productions (99 seats or less) in Los Angeles. Starting in 2006, LA Weekly has hosted the LA Weekly Detour Music Festival every October. The entire block surrounding Los Angeles City Hall is closed off to accommodate the festival's three stages.
Some of its best known writers were Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold, who left in early 2012, and Nikki Finke, who blogged about the film industry through the Weekly's website and published a print column in the paper each week, leaving in June 2009 after the blog she founded, Deadline Hollywood Daily, was acquired by an online firm.
The paper was founded in 1978 by Jay Levin, who served as its editor from 1978 to 1991 and its president from 1978 to 1992. Levin put together an investment group that included actor Michael Douglas, Burt Kleiner, Joe Benadon, and Pete Kameron. The majority of its core of initial staff members came from the Austin Sun, a similar-natured bi-weekly, which had recently ceased publication.
Although some former employees have complained about personnel moves since the Weekly's parent company's acquisition by New Times Media in 2004 (which assumed the Village Voice Media name in 2005), the paper has won a Pulitzer Prize, and broke the story of the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Some of those disgruntled ex-employees complained when New Times replaced news editor Alan Mittelstaedt with New Times LA editor Jill Stewart. But in the 2009 LA Press Club Awards, the Weekly won six first-place awards, including three by staff writer Christine Pelisek, who was honored as the city's best reporter in investigative reporting, hard news, and news feature.
Harold Meyerson, once the Weekly's political editor, charged in a departing email to Weekly staffers in 2006 that the new owners had grafted a cookie-cutter template for editorial content onto the publication.
Writers once closely associated with the Weekly but let go by the paper's current management include Meyerson, classical music critic Alan Rich, theater critic Steven Leigh Morris, film critic Ella Taylor, and columnist Marc Cooper. Internal cutbacks have resulted in the paper eliminating the position of managing editor, letting go several staff writers and other editorial department positions, as well as cutting the entire fact checking department. On June 1, 2009, the paper announced that Editor-in-Chief Laurie Ochoa, who began helming the paper in 2001 (before the New Times acquisition), was "parting ways" with the Weekly. On that same day, ads for her replacement appeared on Craigslist and Journalismjobs.com. Though some speculated that Stewart was a shoo-in for the position, the job quickly went to Drex Heikes, formerly of the Los Angeles Times. When Heikes left in 2011, he was replaced by Sarah Fenske.
The management of LA Weekly said staff cuts were necessary owing to poor economic conditions. However, some of the cuts are likely attributable to philosophical differences with the paper's then-owners, who have since sold the chain. Former staff writer Matthew Fleischer said at the time that "as part of the company's 'plug-and-play' management strategy, editors, writers and ad directors were moved from city to city within the chain, without regard for local knowledge. Any old-school Village Voice Media manager who resisted the metamorphosis was denounced as a 'lefty,' a 'throwback,' and worse. They were fired or simply fled."
Since 2008, LA Weekly has hosted a food and wine festival, now dubbed The Essentials, that draws sizable crowds. In 2009, former Los Angeles Times food writer Amy Scattergood became food blogger at LA Weekly's Squid Ink, and was later promoted to food editor. In late 2009, the paper hired Dennis Romero, formerly of Ciudad magazine, as a full-time news blogger. Following the recession, in 2012, the paper added food critic Besha Rodell, a James Beard Foundation Award nominee and former food editor of Atlanta's Creative Loafing. Then in 2013, LA Weekly named Amy Nicholson as its lead film critic. In 2016, LA Weekly named multimedia journalist and Emmy-winning producer Drew Tewksbury as managing editor.
In September 2012, Village Voice Media executives Scott Tobias, Christine Brennan and Jeff Mars bought Village Voice Media's papers and associated web properties from its founders and formed Voice Media Group. The paper won journalism awards before and after this transition, with two of its news writers, Patrick Range McDonald and Gene Maddaus, winning the Los Angeles Press Club's nod for "Journalist of the Year".
For a time in the Los Angeles market, LA Weekly competed against two now-defunct publications, including Brand X (a weekly published by the Los Angeles Times and produced by a crew that included former LA Weekly staffers) and LA CityBeat, a smaller alternative weekly newspaper owned by Southland Publishing, which ceased publication in March 2009. Southland also owns the Pasadena Weekly, (helmed by veteran LA-area newsman Kevin Uhrich), The Argonaut on the Westside of Los Angeles, and other print products in Southern California.
In November 2017, the publication was sold to Semanal Media LLC. In December 2017, it was revealed that the new owners of Semanal Media LLC include "David Welch, a Los Angeles-based attorney with ties to the cannabis industry; philanthropist Kevin Xu, an investor with biotech firm Mebo International; attorney Steve Mehr; boutique hotelier Paul Makarechian; real estate developer Mike Mugel; and Southern California investor Andy Bequer", all residents of Orange County, California. The new operation manager is Brian Calle.
In August 2018, David Welch sued the other co-owners, alleging "they've pillaged the company."
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- ^ "Theatre Awards Listings". Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ "LA WEEKLY DETOUR". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
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- ^ a b L.A. Weekly Founder Jay Levin on the vision that started it all. L.A. Weekly, December 4, 2008; www.laweekly.com.
- ^ Jay Levin, Joie Davidow, Michael Ventura, Ginger Varney, Bill Bentley and Big Boy Medlin, "supported in the early days by Tracy Johnston and then Phil Tracy and a host of freelancers." See L.A. Weekly Founder Jay Levin on the vision that started it all. L.A. Weekly, December 4, 2008; www.laweekly.com. Ventura, Varney, Bentley and Medlin had all previously been associated with the Austin Sun. See Michael Ventura, Report From L.A. Austin Chronicle, October 2, 1998; www.austinchronicle.com.
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- ^ Richard Siklos (October 24, 2005). "The Village Voice, Pushing 50, Prepares to Be Sold to a Chain of Weeklies". The New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
- ^ "...Stewart openly despised the Weekly. And let's be honest: the Weekly staff openly despised her. I don't think that is much of a secret to anyone in L.A. media circles. Putting her in the News Editor chair was like dropping a glowing load of Kryptonite onto the Weekly lunch table." "L.A. Weekly: The Autopsy Report". marccooper.com. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
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- ^ "MLacey's Wednesday night massacre". Bruce Blog. Archived from the original on July 4, 2008. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- ^ "Parting Shots". LA Weekly. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
- ^ "After almost 30 years, the Theater Editor position in a city with 2,000 professional plays opening every year was determined by Phoenix to be a fiscal extravagance" "Goodbye Hello, A Memo to the L.A. Theater Community". LA Weekly. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
- ^ Thompson, Anne. "LA Weekly Axes Critic Taylor". Variety. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
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- ^ Benjamin Gottlieb (October 31, 2011). "LA Weekly Owner Names Ex-Girlfriend As Editor-in-Chief". Neon Tommy. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
- ^ a b "New Times: Once the best alt-weekly in the nation, 'L.A. Weekly' tightens its belt". LA City Beat. Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- ^ During that period, Rick Barrs, editor of the Weekly's sister paper Phoenix New Times, left comments on Cooper's blog stating that "your old, hippy-dippy paper has gone the way of the dinosaur. extinct. bye, bye.""L.A. Weekly: The Autopsy Report". marccooper.com. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- ^ Scattergood, Amy (January 24, 2014). "The Essentials: LA Weekly's 6th Annual Food and Wine Event". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ "Portrait of a Gourmand - Amy Scattergood - Food Editor - White on Rice Couple". August 13, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ "Dennis Romero: Bio". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ "L.A. Weekly hires Besha Rodell as food critic". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ Team, The Deadline (July 1, 2013). "LA Weekly Hires Amy Nicholson As Film Critic". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ "Drew Tewksbury named LA Weekly managing editor". LA Observed. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- ^ "Village Voice Media Execs Acquire The Company's Famed Alt Weeklies, Form New Holding Company". Tech Crunch. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
- ^ Wilson, Simone (June 27, 2011). "Patrick Range McDonald Named Best Print Journalist of the Year by L.A. Press Club; LA Weekly Takes Home 6 More Awards". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ Fenske, Sarah (June 30, 2014). "Gene Maddaus Named L.A. Press Club Journalist of the Year - Again". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ "LA Observed". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ "About". September 24, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- ^ Haring, Bruce (December 7, 2017). "LA Weekly's New Ownership Responds To Boycott Threats, Promises Improvements". Deadline.com.
- ^ Raab, Lauren. "One LA Weekly owner sues the rest, alleging they've pillaged the company". latimes.com. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
- ^ Redford, Patrick. "L.A. Weekly Co-Owner Sues Other Owners, Alleges Wild Ethics Violations". The Concourse. Retrieved August 30, 2018.