Boycott The L.A. Weekly!
The future of the LA Weekly is still very unknown, on Saturday, @LAWeekly issued a tweet asking: ‘passionate Angelinos to share stories about their life and culture in L.A.’, which triggered a lot of reactions for two reasons: first people were infuriated by the fact that the LA Weekly was seeking unpaid work, then because of the misspelling of ‘Angelenos,’ which looks bad for a newspaper asking for LA writers. Anyhow, the tweet was deleted shortly after the controversy. But I am more interested by the politics behind this than an eventual misspelling.
Since the Weekly was sold to Semanal Media, the identities of the new owners were revealed by the LA Times: They are ‘men with Orange County ties’… who ‘have donated to conservative causes, and two of them — boutique hotel developer Paul Makarechian and real estate redeveloper Mike Mugel — have given large sums to numerous Republican political campaigns.’
If this is not awful news I don’t know what it is! LA Weekly’s new operations manager is Brian Calle, an opinion editor for the Orange County Register and 10 other daily newspapers in the Southern California News Group, but the LA Times also wrote ‘he spent about a year working for the conservative Claremont Institute’ and when we know about the Claremont Institute’s support for Trump’s candidature and flirt with alt-right, we have to wonder about Calle’s real intentions.
As I would have predicted, Henry Rollins has left the paper, and his column, which had been a staple of the Weekly since 2010, is gone for good (who is gonna replace him, Ted Nugent?), whereas music and film columnists like Jeff Weiss, April Wolfe and even directors Ava DuVernay and actor Mark Ruffalo are asking for a boycott of the newspaper,… actually people from all venues are asking advertisers to remove their ads in the paper.
Some advertisers have held off on running ads until they see if the paper is keeping its progressive bent, but the new owners are complaining about what have been written about them. Calle called it ‘absolute falsehood’ and promises that the new LA Weekly will ‘advocate for things no one else is willing to advocate for … that people view as inappropriate.’ What does it mean exactly?
The LA Weekly has been relatively silent on Twitter since the backlash, and at a moment when Los Angeles is burning (4 or 5 fires are devastating the hills including a huge one around the Getty Center) the LA Weekly didn’t have any words to say about it, isn’t it strange? unprofessional?
Some freelancers have received the following email from the LA Weekly’s remaining staff, trying to explain the situation. Apparently, some writers will be paid, others won’t, ‘That’s an entirely different group of people’, as they wrote, although I am not sure what they mean. If they all write for the paper, shouldn’t they all be paid?
You’re receiving this email because you have freelanced for L.A. Weekly in the past. We want you to know we’re still here and still eager for your pitches.
The new owners have made some missteps, and they’re working to correct that. First and foremost, be assured that writers who have been paid contributors will continue to be PAID contributors.
(Free content is being sought from those who wish to write for free. That’s an entirely different group of people.)
We’re aware of the backlash in the media surrounding the sale of the L.A. Weekly, and of the many rumors flying around. To clarify a few things:
Some of the investors in Semanal Media, the new ownership group, are indeed contributors to Republican candidates, Democrats, libertarians and even — gasp! — real estate developers. But their purchase of the Weekly was not motivated by any political agenda, and no shift in editorial direction is planned.
The Weekly plans to cover the city with a hard-hitting, irreverent and fearless approach. It’s unfortunate that some former freelancers and staff writers have chosen to spread false information based on their own assumptions rather than facts.
The wall between “church and state,” that is between editorial and sales & marketing, stands firm, and will continue to do so. Everyone at the Weekly believes strongly in that, as we always have.
We’re hoping for everyone’s patience and understanding while we seek to undo some of the perceptions being perpetuated and while we put into place our vision for an enhanced Weekly.
And we hope you’ll help us by contributing your own ideas for coverage that will make L.A. Weekly stronger and better than ever before.
Please send any pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks! — Hillel Aron, Lisa Horowitz and the rest of the L.A. Weekly team’
The question remains, where will the LA Weekly be able to find its writers? And how long will these unpaid writers be willing to write for free? Now that the paper is owned by wealthy Republican white men, the game is corrupted.
The Echo and The Regent Theater, concert promoter Spaceland Presents, record store chain Amoeba Music, and indie hip-hop label Mello Music Group have already joined the boycott of the LA Weekly (you won’t be able to find the paper at these popular venues anymore), and there is a new Gofundme page created by Katie Bain and denouncing ‘Semanal Media’s far-right agenda, which includes anti-union measures, a reliance on unpaid labor, and support for the private prison industry’. They are calling for a boycott of the LA Weekly and are currently raising money for a protest on December 8th but ‘The ultimate goal is to sell the paper back to a group of responsible local citizens and investors and turn it into a non-profit publication solely accountable to the community’.
I hope this can be done, I am not very optimistic, but it really doesn’t feel good to know the new owners of the LA Weekly are Trump supporters, right? So join the protest!