80 % Of L.A. Weekly Staff Fired After Paper Was Bought By A Mysterious Group
There was a time when I was waiting for Thursday to be able to pick up a copy of LA Weekly, then, a few years ago, the free newspaper went digital as many others did, and even though the printed edition still exists, I rarely pick up a copy these days. It used to be very thick and filled with long articles, but the paper has become increasingly thinner over the years.
Nevertheless, LA Weekly was and still is an important part of LA, I am always referring to them when it comes to shows and music news. However, I don’t know what to think today, after reading the sad news that it was put up for sale by Voice Media Group last January, and recently purchased by a mysterious buyer, which goes under the name Semanal Media, LLC.
The transaction actually occurred in October, but it was announced on Wednesday that 9 of 13 editorial staffers had been laid off – including music editor Andy Hermann, arts and culture editor Gwynedd Stuart, managing editor Drew Tewksbury and food editor Katherine Spiers – and all but one staff writer. That was such a depressing devastation for journalists that Editor In Chief Mara Shalhoup tweeted ‘We were expecting there to be some pain with the sale of @LAWeekly. But we weren’t expecting the Red Wedding. That’s how deep the cuts are.’
Ouch! And there are a lot of speculations about who this Semanal group really is. Even though semanal means weekly in Spanish, it was ‘a new entity established solely for the purpose of acquiring LA Weekly’, as it was confirmed to the LA Times, and this has awaken a lot of curiosity everywhere.
According to the OC Weekly, LA Weekly’s sister-paper for Orange County, one of the mysterious buyers could be David Welch, who is Los Angeles medical cannabis attorney. Although he is not the only one in the deal, he is likely to ‘represents one or more silent partners, marijuana industry investors who provided the actual money for the purchase,’ speculates the paper without knowing what it could mean for the future of LA Weekly,… ‘What does this mean for LA Weekly?’ the paper asks.
Even though Welch has declined to speak to the Los Angeles Times, we also know that Brian Calle, of the Libertarian-Leaning Orange County Register, was hired to manage LA Weekly’s operations.
‘There is no excuse for the owners of LA Weekly to hide their identities, and they should be revealed immediately,’ decalred SPJ President Rebecca Baker. ‘To not reveal yourselves is to treat your readers with less dignity than humans deserve and with less respect than democracy should demand. It is appalling and offensive.’
And honestly the mystery stays even thicker when you see LA Weekly itself publishing an article like ‘Who Owns LA Weekly?’, with big question marks all over it. There’s one thing I want to know, does it mean that Henry Rollins’ column in LA Weekly is gone?