LA Weekly

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LA Weekly
LA Weekly (front page).jpg
Type Alternative weekly
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) Voice Media Group
Publisher Beth Sestanovich
Editor Sarah Fenske[1]
Founded 1978
Headquarters 3861 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, California, 90230
Circulation 160,128[2]
Official website

LA Weekly is a free weekly tabloid-sized "alternative weekly" in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1978 by Editor/Publisher Jay Levin and a board of directors that included actor-producer Michael Douglas. It is currently owned by Voice Media Group, owner of "alternative weeklies" Village Voice, LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Houston Press, Dallas Observer, Riverfront Times, Miami New Times, Minneapolis City Pages, Broward New Times, and OC Weekly. It is distributed every Thursday.


According to their website, "LA Weekly has been the premier source for award-winning coverage of Los Angeles music, arts, film, theater, culture, concerts, [and] events." The LA Weekly also recognizes outstanding small theatre productions (99 seats or less) in Los Angeles, with their annual LA Weekly Theater Awards, established in 1979.[3] For a few years starting in 2006, LA Weekly hosted the LA Weekly Detour Music Festival, during which the entire block surrounding Los Angeles City Hall was closed off to accommodate the festival's three stages.[4]

Some of its most famous 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, a blog which grew out of a weekly print column she wrote for the paper for several years.[5] Finke left in June 2009 after the blog she founded, Deadline Hollywood Daily, was acquired by an online firm.[6]

The paper was founded in 1978 by Jay Levin, who was the paper's editor from 1978 to 1991 and its president from 1978 to 1992.[7] The majority of its core of initial staff members[8] came from the Austin Sun, a similar-natured bi-weekly, which had recently ceased publication.[7]

The Weekly's parent company, New Times Media, a string of weeklies admired by some for its often probing, long-form style,[9] acquired the Weekly and assumed the Village Voice Media name in 2005[10]). Some former employees were unhappy about personnel moves. Some of those disgruntled ex-employees complained when New Times replaced news editor Alan Mittelstaedt with veteran New Times editor Jill Stewart, who is now the paper's managing editor.[11]

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.[12]

However, under its new owners, the paper won a Pulitzer Prize,[13] and broke the story of the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer.[14] 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. Then in 2011, Stewart's staff writer Patrick Range McDonald was honored by the LA Press Club as Journalist of the Year[15] for his investigative stories, "California's Parent Trigger," "Educating Maria," and "City of Airheads." The latter story, about severe City Council cuts to the city's vast 73-library system, was credited with inspiring a political movement among L.A. voters. Voters went to the polls in 2008 to force the city to reopen the public libraries,[16] which had been shuttered two days a week—a rare action previously seen in only one other big U.S. city, Detroit.

Writers once closely associated with the Weekly but let go years ago by the new management include Meyerson[17] and classical music critic Alan Rich,[18] film critic Ella Taylor[19] and columnist Marc Cooper.[20] Theater critic Steven Leigh Morris was shifted from a staff writer to the paper's regular theater freelancer.[21] Internal cutbacks leading up to and during the recession resulted in the paper letting go several staff writers and other editorial department positions, as well as cutting the entire fact-checking department.[22] 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.[23] On that same day, ads for her replacement appeared on Craigslist and[citation needed] Though some speculated that former Los Angeles Times reporter Stewart was a shoo-in for the position,[24] the job quickly went to Drex Heikes, formerly of the Los Angeles Times. When Heikes left in 2011, he was replaced by Sarah Fenske.[1]

Weekly management said staff cuts were necessary due to poor economic conditions.[25] However, some of the cuts were likely attributable to philosophical differences between former staff and the new owners.[26] Former staff writer Matthew Fleischer said 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."[27]

For a brief period, Brand X, a weekly newspaper published by the daily newspaper the Los Angeles Times, competed against the Weekly. Brand X, which folded in 2011,[28] had been produced by a crew that included former LA Weekly staffers. Another competitor was LA CityBeat, a smaller alternative weekly newspaper owned by Southland Publishing. LA CityBeat ceased publication in March 2009. Southland Publishing still owns the Pasadena Weekly, (helmed by veteran LA-area newsman Kevin Uhrich),The Argonaut on the Westside of Los Angeles and a cadre of other print products throughout Southern California.

LA Weekly in 2012 hired award-winning food writer Besha Rodell,[29] formerly of Creative Loafing,[30] and in 2013 hired film critic Amy Nicholson.[31] 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.[32]


  1. ^ a b Benjamin Gottlieb (October 31, 2011). "LA Weekly Owner Names Ex-Girlfriend As Editor-in-Chief". Neon Tommy. Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  2. ^ ABC
  3. ^ Awards listing at TCG online
  4. ^ La Weekly Detour
  5. ^ Nikki Finke
  6. ^ "MAIL.COM MEDIA CORPORATION ACQUIRES DEADLINEHOLLYWOODDAILY.COM". Deadline Hollywood Daily. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  7. ^ a b L.A. Weekly Founder Jay Levin on the vision that started it all. L.A. Weekly, December 4, 2008;
  8. ^ 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; 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;
  9. ^ Vane, Sharyn (November 1998). "Consider the Alternative". American Journalism Review. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ "...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". Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  12. ^ "Anyone who spends a nano-second looking at the paper understands that New Times template is already in place, and I know from countless conversations that editorial staffers live in fear of geting the ax if they deviate from it. That's sad for the city, sad for the paper, and sad for those of you who work there and are in no financial position to leave (a position I understand very well)." "Lacey's Wednesday night massacre". Bruce Blog. Retrieved 2009-01-30. [dead link]
  13. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q.; Barron, James (2007-04-17). "Wall Street Journal Wins 2 Pulitzer Prizes; History of Civil Rights Reporting Also Wins". The New York Times. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "MLacey's Wednesday night massacre.". Bruce Blog. Retrieved 2009-01-30. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Parting Shots". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  19. ^ Thompson, Anne. "LA Weekly Axes Critic Taylor". Variety. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  20. ^ "Marc Cooper, managing editor cut at LA Weekly". LA Observed. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  21. ^ "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 2009-02-02. 
  22. ^ "Marc Cooper, managing editor cut at LA Weekly". LA Observed. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  23. ^ "For Immediate Release: LA Weekly, Editor to Part Ways". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  24. ^ "L.A. Weekly Editor Gone Now *Updated". Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  25. ^ "'We’re simply tightening our belt in response to the economic downturn,' [L.A. Weekly publisher Beth Sestanovich] tells City Beat. 'This isn’t about banking or leveraged buyouts. It’s strictly operational. We’re sizing the business to make sure that when this downturn ends – and we don’t know when this will hit bottom – we come out strong.'"New Times: Once the best alt-weekly in the nation, ‘L.A. Weekly’ tightens its belt". LA City Beat. Retrieved 2009-01-30. [dead link]
  26. ^ For example, Village Voice Media executive Rick Barrs 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". Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  27. ^ "New Times: Once the best alt-weekly in the nation, ‘L.A. Weekly’ tightens its belt". LA City Beat. Retrieved 2009-01-30. [dead link]
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Village Voice Media Execs Acquire The Company’s Famed Alt Weeklies, Form New Holding Company". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 

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