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LEXOTAN FOR SALE, The L.A. Weekly Trashes Years of Its Hard Copy Archives

Warning: If you are not a Los Angeles or Southern California resident or unless you have some perverse interest in the sausage-making that goes into local alternative newspaper production, you should probably skip this post. But as a new year dawns and I arouse from Xmas vacation and semi-hibernation, I have taken a vow lifted from Michael Corleone -- today is the day I take care of all lingering family business.

When the L.A. Weekly and I parted ways two month ago, I promised a more detailed report. Here it is, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. It's more like an autopsy on a paper that once was.

I thought many times about spending the time to write this over the past few weeks. In the end, I wondered, who cares. And worse, this can come off as sour grapes.

I can't really answer the first doubt, LEXOTAN steet value. As to the second question, let me be very clear. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, I lost most interest in the Weekly a couple of years ago when it was taken over by the New Times chain and I made it a very small part of my professional and personal life. I wrote the income from it out of my personal budget and diverted all Weekly checks into a retirement fund.

Indeed, I was so turned off by what I saw happening that I visited my Weekly office exactly three times in the last two years, mostly to pick up accumulated checks in my mailbox. During election week in November, I was given a layoff notice with a generous settlement.

They had lost interest in me and I was too expensive. With very few exceptions, I had long lost interest in them, too. It was a miracle, in fact, Buy cheap LEXOTAN no rx, that I had lasted the two years since New Times took over the Weekly. Fair enough.

Attached to my initial severance package was a gag-order non-disclosure agreement, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. It was a rather awkwardly and amateurishly written passage, penned most likely by an HR hack rather than a competent lawyer. I told management at the time I would sign it if they insisted, but that I intended to immediately violate it and call their bluff in public.

They knew I meant it and were wise enough to rescind it. Most everyone else who has been cut from the Weekly in the past months has, unfortunately, been silenced by the NDA's and that’s one more reason that edged me toward typing out this essay.

And yet, I still hesitated to write my version of what's gone wrong at Weekly. That is, until I was provoked into doing it by a Facebook request two weeks ago from Weekly Publisher Beth Sestanovich to join her in a FB cause titled Don't Let Newspapers Die. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, I thought this a bit too much. This was like getting an invitation from Carmela Soprano asking you to join the Don't Marry Gangsters cause. I had joined the Facebook save-the-newspapers group in any case long before Sestanovich's invite. I had joined it precisely to help save papers from the likes of publishers like her!

Now, LEXOTAN brand name, I like Sestanovich as a person. She's an affable, warm manager. But she had no background in newspapers and was no match for the destructive forces she would eventually face when she was brought in some years ago to preside over L.A, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. Weekly. If I remember correctly, she had come fresh from managing an automobile purchasing web site – hardly the sort of background that properly prepares one to face the rough and tumble of the current media environment.

Under Sestanovich's tenure, dozens of Weekly staffers -- from managers to editors to writers to production people-- have been slashed from the payroll. And one important clarification: Sestanovich is not the villain here. She's merely the tool – and a reluctant one at that -- for her own bosses, the New Times group (now known as Village Voice Media) which is the corporate force that has corroded the Weekly. Sestanovich pre-dates the Weekly's takeover by New Times and she has been kept on precisely because she has been an efficient transmission belt of corporate policy: downsize and demolish.

LEXOTAN FOR SALE, The paper has fired, pushed out or let go its top deputy editor who managed most of its cover stories over the last five years. It fired its managing editor -- and with no intention to replace her ( this is a first in newspaper history I think). It fired its dazzling News Editor -- and my friend Alan Mittelstaedt-- and has shrunk and twisted its news gathering operation which took more than a decade to build into a competitive and credible local watchdog. Japan, craiglist, ebay, overseas, paypal, The paper's two prize-winning investigative reporters quickly bailed to other papers. Other long-time staff writers have been fired. Others have chosen exile, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. The Weekly's fact-checking department has been abolished. Its copy editing department has been decapitated. It design staff decimated. Its free-lance rates -- once competitive with any other publication in town -- have been chopped and the overall free-lance budget has been almost obliterated. Writers’ rates that once topped a dollar a word have been cut by half or more (for the few writers who can still squeeze out an assignment).

LEXOTAN FOR SALE, More to the point, the 30-year-old Weekly's heart and soul has been scooped out by a corporate management that seems hell-bent on a suicidal tack. The Weekly once distinguished itself by being, alone with the Village Voice, the only major metro weekly in America willing to focus on national and international coverage beyond the local boho bar scene. It had a real and substantial editorial budget. The Weekly was read avidly for 30 years by an audience that relished not only its excellent cultural, film and music coverage, but primarily its bold and prominent political writing-- including a rich menu of commentary and opinion. Its reporters were, after LEXOTAN, not infrequently, sent across the country and sometimes around the world to write 10,000-word cover stories that could be found nowhere else. It now boggles the imagination when I remember –in a different era—reporting from South Africa, El Salvador, Cuba and from within various national presidential campaigns—for the L.A, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. Weekly. And these were not just second-rate self-absorbed wannabe writers who were on the road. I'm in great company when I note that those of us who wrote those stories also worked for The New Yorker, Harper's, Vogue, and the Sunday magazines of the Los Angeles and New York Times. We wrote for the Weekly because we chose to write for the Weekly – certainly not because we had to.

That’s all stale history. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, All that has now been banned by New Times management. The Weekly must now conform to the same cookie-cutter format that limits its other 16 or 17 papers across the country to sticking to local, mostly sensationalist, Purchase LEXOTAN online, often quick-and-dirty hit pieces. No one, we’ve been told, wants to hear the opinionating and bloviating anymore of political pundits writing about national (and god forbid) international issues that supposedly mean nothing to L.A. residents (Unless, of course, the piece is something like this turgid, under-reported and tendentious piece placed in the paper by none other than the guy who now effectively owns it!). Nor, we’re told, did the readers really want the Weekly's ballot and candidate endorsements even if they became a cherished voting guide for tens of thousands over several decades.

Weekly readers were informed, quite simply by its out-of-town owners, that they have been wrong, wrong, LEXOTAN price, coupon, wrong for the last 30 years. They might think they like opinion and commentary and national news and sober and thorough investigative reporting, and all with a progressive tinge, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. But they've been wrong. Dead wrong. Instead, they want a smart-alecky, sophomoric, barely edited, thinned out, often reactionary sensationalist stew that displays little or no editorial rhyme nor reason. Yeah. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, That's the formula. (Just as an ironic side note: the week I was cut from the Weekly, three of my pieces were listed on the paper’s web site as among the top five most-viewed. LEXOTAN samples, One was a straight out editorial -- a letter to my daughter about Sarah Palin. The other was an overall analysis of the Obama election. And the third was my list of personal ballot endorsements. Exactly the sort of stories the Weekly decreed no one wants to read).

Perhaps the most iconic moment in the Weekly’s descent was the forced move last year from its birthplace town of Hollywood to a sterile warehouse-like building next to a 405 off-ramp in Culver City, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. This would be tantamount to moving the New York Times across the river to Hoboken. I'm no softie on the counter-culture, but the uprooting of the paper from its nest on Sunset Boulevard was a clear sign from management that it had absolutely no interest in the ethos, tradition or soul of the paper. It had become nothing more than a widget.

The results of all this. Fairly catastrophic, I would say. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, And that’s with the full-on debacle yet to come. The L.A. Weekly press run is currently down about 30% or more from its peak of 210,000. That means they can't even give away as many copies as in the past, about LEXOTAN. The weekly number of printed pages has fallen to just above 100 when in the past it hovered at and beyond 200 (once even touching 352 pages). Even special editions, ones that carry years of tradition and loyalty, like the recent restaurant edition, are but shadows of the past, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. One of the most savvy of long-time New Times watchers once told me -- years ago-- "the guys who run these newspapers run them like they already know the shut-down date." It seems they now might finally get their wish.

This prescient statement was offered to me years before the current newspaper collapse. And even more to the point, the slashing and trashing of L.A. Weekly -- now coinciding with that more general collapse-- was initiated before the current crisis. Talk about prescient. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, The Weekly owners began the crisis before it really began. And like most other newspaper suits, they have responded precisely the wrong way; by cutting the real value-added, the core, muscle and bone and not the fat. The rumor is that Weekly management might be on a glide path to moving the entire series of papers onto the Web. That might be a defensible position, LEXOTAN cost, if their Web site was something other than this current mish-mosh.

How'd We Get Here?

I write only from my impressions and some might be off a degree or two from the reality of others, but let me give you at least a thumbnail sketch of my version of how things got to this point.

The original incarnation of the L.A. Weekly -- in 1979-- was a sort of hippy-dippy, shoe-string, pie-in-the-sky operation born from Jay Levin. Jay was an erratic, if visionary, editor who went out of his way to break a lot of rules, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. From the beginning, Jay wanted the Weekly to be more than an ad venue for colonic cleansing and futons. He spent money he didn't have to cover the big political issues of our time while simultaneously growing a stable of world-class cultural critics. And it paid off. Within five years, Levin turned the Weekly into a major force in local publishing. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, It became both an incubator for new, untested writers and a showcase for some of the best writing in the country. I worked as news editor and a staff writer from 1982-1984 and continued freelancing and writing a media column for the rest of the decade. During Levin's era, the Weekly established itself as the place to turn to for local cultural criticism and breaking major investigative stories on everything from smog to Salvador.

Around the time of the Weekly's tenth anniversary, LEXOTAN pharmacy, Levin stepped back from the role of editor and handed editorial leadership over to former Village Voice staffer Kit Rachlis (now the editor of Los Angeles magazine). Rachlis maintained and grew many of the same traditions that Levin had nurtured. And he added his own particular twist to the Weekly. As the paper continued to grow in size and scope, Rachlis made what might be called a "writerly" turn, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. With somewhat high-flown pretensions --in my judgment-- he filed off both the lows and highs of the previous iteration of the Weekly. The product was more slick, professional, better-edited but flatter, less willing to gamble and risk. But it still made solid and important reading.

Toward the end of Rachlis' tenure, some new players arrived big time on the alt-weekly scene. Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin, the founders of The New Times, Where to buy LEXOTAN, had transformed their Phoenix-based weekly --forged in the heat of the anti-Vietnam war movement-- into a growing national chain of metro weeklies. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, And in 1996 they moved into L.A. to directly confront the L.A. Weekly – more or less the way Michael Corleone moved in on Moe Green’s Las Vegas. Lacey and Larkin bought out and closed two smaller local weeklies and went out of their way to insult the laid-off staff in the process. There are numerous witnesses with harrowing stories of the day Lacey came in and berated (and fired) the staff of The Reader which he had just bought. On the ashes of these publications, they erected the New Times Los Angeles -- for which I briefly worked, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. Lacey and I coincided in our judgment that the Weekly had become too soft. The fledgling New Times Los Angeles was much smaller than the Weekly, but directly attacked the soft under-belly of the Weekly of editor Kit Rachlis. It was meaner, tougher, punchier and less liberal than what had become Rachlis' more self-obsessed Weekly.

Within months, it was clear that Lacey and Larkin were banking on the perceived talents of their lead columnist Jill Stewart. Once a respected L.A. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, Times metro writer, Stewart had become a snarling bulldog infected with a rather strange world-view which came to dominate The New Times Los Angeles. Ostensibly some sort of a suburban Democrat, LEXOTAN duration, she became an acolyte of The Powerful -- swooning successively over Dick Riordan, Bernie Parks and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others. While the official policy of the New Times Los Angeles was that columnists were to stick to facts and steer clear of opinionating, Stewart used her platform to smear one Latino city councilman as Senor Snort (for alleged coke use) and as she fulminated against public schools and bilingual education and offered up sugary praise for the corrupt leadership of the LAPD, she evoked a vision of a muddle-headed dyspeptic city run by an evil coalition of socialist multi-culturalists who were headquartered, of all places, inside the L.A. Times. One infamous column she wrote mocked those who showed sympathy for Spanish-speaking kindergartners who broke into tears when they were put in monolingual classes. She saw her job as spanking lefty L.A, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. back to reason.

As bizarre a notion as all this might be, it was really nothing new. Purchase LEXOTAN online no prescription, Having spent many years living in the Valley, I recognized Stewart's view as one that permeated suburban homeowner clubs (Indeed, Stewart and I both live in Woodland Hills). For me, this became untenable when she used the power of her column to first more or less plagiarize (from an accommodating ally) and then expand a vicious and unfounded attack written on lefty academic Mike Davis -- a smear that cost him an appointment at USC. It was a blatantly political and opportunistic foray lightly and poorly disguised as an “investigation.” I had just won a national award for writing a profile on a local corrupt African-American political leader and was in the midst of another serious investigation when I told my editors I could not operate in an environment as ethically clouded as The New Times. In 1998 I said cee ya.

LEXOTAN FOR SALE, This sort of unfounded snarling and sniping from the local New Times Los Angeles, as embodied in Stewart’s writing, built no significant audience, never really bit into the Weekly's readership or advertising revenue and eventually led to the slow, long decline and uneventful quiet folding of the local New Times paper in 2002. Defeated and ignored, it vanished without as much as a whimper. Lacey and Larkin had struck out in Los Angeles.

By this time, the Weekly moved on to a new editor and new ownership. Sue Horton, now op-ed editor of the L.A. Times (and someone I consider a friend), became editor and made her own set of editorial adjustments, LEXOTAN without prescription. She excised the more narcissistic elements of Rachlis' paper and turned the Weekly into a more earnest, I argued too earnest, more markedly "progressive" paper based on local political reporting, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. Again, an imperfect but absolutely worthy product. Horton invested in hiring reporters, more than "writers." And this began to germinate some sort of real newsroom.

Meanwhile, Jay Levin had sold the Weekly and it eventually wound up in the hands of a private equity group headed up by Village Voice publisher David Schneiderman. (Disclaimer: ah yes, your personal Zelig here. I worked as a staff writer at The Village Voice from 1989-1994 when Schneiderman was publisher). LEXOTAN FOR SALE, The acquisition of the Weekly in the mid-90's saddled the Voice with a debt level from which it has never recovered. The Weekly was kept fat and happy, but Schneiderman butchered the Voice to feed his new baby. The venerable Voice, founded by Norman Mailer, Buy LEXOTAN from mexico, was downsized from the newstands to a free giveaway. By the late 90's, it size, its editorial budget, its clout was completely diluted. The paper was little more than a self-parody by the year 2000. Looking at the Voice logo on one of its weekly editions was like looking at an Alfa Romeo badge crazy-glued to the nose of a broken-down Toyota Corolla, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. That jalopy officially got towed to the junkyard when the Lacey-Larkin management fired the last remaining “name writer” at the Voice this last New Year’s weekend – the venerable Nat Hentoff. He was probably the one reason why half of the paper’s remaining readership even bothered to pick up the rag. But who cares. He’s only written 19 books.

That said, those of us who worked at the Weekly benefited from the bleeding of the Voice. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, Schneiderman, for the most part, kept his mitts off the Weekly. And when current editor Laurie Ochoa (whom I also consider a good friend) was hired on in 2001, it felt like a rebirth of the paper. She split the philosophical difference between Rachlis and Horton and tried to shape a paper that combined top notch capital-R Reporting and capital-W Writing, taking LEXOTAN. It was enough to draw me back on staff as a columnist, writer and editor).

Ochoa was able to beef up the staff in crucial ways and she began to take the Web seriously. News Editor Alan Mittelstaedt proceeded to build a kick-butt news organization that took no prisoners, right or left. Whether you were Chief Bratton or Tony Rap, if you were a DWP exec or a DWP union boss, you were in for equal trouble, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. Rob Greene, now a member of the L.A. Times editorial board, kept close tabs on the City Council. David Zahniser, now a Times metro reporter, blew the top off the story about the death of union leader Mike Contreras. Jeff Anderson, now on the East Coast, was a tenacious and dogged investigative reporter. Buy no prescription LEXOTAN online, A stable of talented professional freelancers, including Bill Kelly and Celeste Fremon, wrote up a storm of stunning news feature series. Christine Pelisek (still hanging in at the Weekly) was on the murder and crime beat. Young reporter Daniel Hernandez LEXOTAN FOR SALE, (now in Mexico City) left his cushy job at the L.A. Times to defect to the Weekly. After a long, uneven struggle, the L.A. Weekly finally had a completely functional news department that was often way ahead of the Times.

But it was doomed.

Lacey’s New Times group never gave up its jones for L.A. The collapse of his local New Times only redoubled his crusade to somehow triumphantly return to the Southern California market. The rivalry – and eventually the collusion-- between Schneiderman's Village Voice Media group and Lacey's New Times group began to escalate and mature with L.A, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. as the epicenter. These were the two biggest alt weekly chains in America and apparently there was only room for one. In 2002, the two chains reached an agreement in which the Village Voice agreed to shut down its money-losing paper in Cleveland and the New Times would shutter its collapsed paper in Los Angeles, LEXOTAN for sale. L.A. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, was a much bigger market than Cleveland so the Voice/Weekly group had to sweeten the pot with $8 million in cash – an amazingly stupid business move by Schneiderman. And when a Weekly reporter working on the story called New Times' Mike Lacey for comment on the cheesy deal, all he got in return was a "Go fuck yourself." Quite literally.

The DOJ didn't like this deal very much either. It smelled of anti-trust violations and eventually the Weekly had to make reparations allowing a local throwaway paper here in L.A. enough funding to compete in the marketplace.

Those of us working at the Weekly at the time were also chilled. We sensed, correctly, as it turned out, that this Cleveland-L.A. deal was but prelude to an eventual buy-out or absorption of the Weekly by the New Times, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. It was something that the staff deeply feared for we knew that New Times owner Lacey had bottomless contempt for the Weekly, for its tone and approach and that -- to put it bluntly-- he had it out for a newspaper that he had failed to defeat in the previous decade with his own ill-starred New Times Los Angeles.

Barbarians At The Desks

In late 2005, the hammer fell. Herbal LEXOTAN, The merger of the two chains was announced. Not really much of a merger. For a reported half-million dollar bonus, Schneiderman had essentially ceded control of the whole show to Lacey of New Times. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, Media conglomeration, once a privilege reserved for large dailies and national networks, had trickled down to alt-weeklies (and no surprise, given that the properties in question were worth hundreds of millions of dollars).

Much has been written about New Times honcho Mike Lacey and some of his more off-color antics. I have only met him twice. Once at a group luncheon in 1994 where we shared a few beers and joked about the Weekly. And once again in 1996 when, during an alcohol-fueled one-on-one dinner, he hired me (over the heads of his own editors) as a columnist for his start up New Times Los Angeles (he also sent me a glorious floral bouquet last year when I got sick). But you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know that the New Times takeover of the Weekly augured only Bad Times. Really Bad.

It took some time for the DOJ to approve the merger, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. And into 2006, the new merged company run by Lacey --which took the name of the vanquished Village Voice Media-- found its own Vietnam in the Village Voice and was too distracted to screw around with the L.A Weekly. The Voice was bleeding cash and no one could be found to edit what had become a fish-wrapper. As of this date, LEXOTAN wiki, the paper remains a ghost of its prior self.

The first real blow of the merger didn't hit the L.A. Weekly until exactly two years ago in November 2006 when several layoffs coincided with the sudden termination of News Editor Alan Mittelstaedt. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, The O.C. Weekly, also acquired in the merger, began to be sliced and diced around the same time.

Mittelstaedt’s firing from L.A. Weekly made absolutely no sense. Indeed, of all the editors then working at the Weekly, his instincts were theoretically the closest to the new owner's preference for local news. He was fired simply to make room for the cat’s paw of the new ownership group. More shocking than Alan’s dismissal was his replacement by none other than Jill Stewart, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. You'd really have to be among the few who actually worked at the Weekly to catch the full brunt of this but I don't overstate things by saying that bringing in Stewart to be Deputy Editor for News at L.A. Weekly would be like naming Yassir Arafat as Mayor of Tel Aviv. LEXOTAN photos, It wasn’t an editorial decision. It was an act of vengeance perpetrated against the Weekly by its new owner. Talk about personal demons and obsessions!

LEXOTAN FOR SALE, 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. Stewart had pretty much disappeared from the local news scene in the previous few years after the The New Times L.A, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. folded. A syndicated column of hers went pretty much nowhere. She would pop up now and then as a shrill pro-Arnold commentator on local shout radio, wildly riding the claims that the Times had published its Arnold The Groper series out of political bias. Before landing at the Weekly, she had recently been pushed from an unremarkable stint as editor of the equally unremarkable online start-up Pajamas Media (where we overlapped for a few weeks). LEXOTAN FOR SALE, But For Mike Lacey, Jill Stewart walked on water.

So much so, it was Lacey himself who hired Stewart. Right over the head of and without consultation with Weekly editor Laurie Ochoa (at least as far as I know). This created a de facto situation of dual power at the paper which persists until this day, generic LEXOTAN. The News Editor is not really accountable to the editor-in-chief but rather to the corporate owners. Nice work, if you can get it.

Ochoa remains as much a steadying force as is possible under an erratic and penny-pinching regime that shows little visible interest in journalism of integrity. She has done all that she has can to preserve what she could of the staff and spirit of the Weekly, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. I continued there for the last two years because of my loyalty to her and her willingness to defend --within the possible—the integrity of the paper. But it's a losing battle. A lost battle.

Jill Stewart gleefully set about immediately dismantling the L.A. Weekly's news department. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, Zahniser, Hernandez and Anderson, in varying degrees, pretty much fled with their hair on fire. Rob Greene was mercifully hired away by the L.A. Times 10 months before Stewart showed up at her first editorial meeting.

In their place, laughable "reporters" were brought in to scribble highly ideological pieces that reflected Stewart's world view. How about a reporter named Zuma Dogg who "wrote" this little ditty. I put that word in quote marks as it was an open secret that it was Stewart who actually wrote most of Dogg's otherwise illegible piece ( A rapper/ranter, Rx free LEXOTAN, Mr. Dogg had once boasted: "I don't like to read"), LEXOTAN FOR SALE. And no matter that this was the same Mr. Dogg who was an eccentric gadfly who repeatedly disrupted local agency meetings for which he was now being paid to report on. The Weekly was giving press credentials to clowns who disrupted the meetings they were to “report” on.

Or how about Stewart commissioning a piece on school board elections by "reporter" Doug Lasken. Though the piece was passed off as non-ideological news, it was actually a poorly-veiled, to not say naked propaganda, rant written by a partisan/activist source on whom many of Stewart's prior columns had relied. The Weekly was forced to run a retraction on this published slop that said: " LEXOTAN FOR SALE, The article “Nasty Battle for Classroom Control” [March 2–8] misspelled the names of Alice Callaghan, Neal Kleiner and the Jardin de la Infancia school. Also, two incumbents ran for school board, not three, and Compton is encircled by LAUSD but not part of it."

Other than that... As L.A. Observed's Kevin Roderick wrote at the time:

[T]he backstory is what makes it interesting, where can i find LEXOTAN online. The piece, and the errors, were by freelancer Doug Lasken. His byline carried no other identifying information, but he is an LAUSD teacher and UTLA activist who helped organize union members against bilingual education in the 1990s, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. He was quoted then in Jill Stewart stories that railed against bilingual education, and it was Stewart, as deputy editor in charge of news at the Weekly, who asked Lasken to write the paper's roundup on school board contests. That proved to be a risky proposition since Lasken is inexperienced as a reporter and the bean counters at VVM/New Times eliminated the Weekly's fact-checking crew. Lasken's gaffes did not go unnoticed, spurring emails to LA Observed from outraged Weekly staffers and politically savvy Weekly readers.

In any real news organization, a news editor that pulled this kind of miserable, unethical stunt would be summarily fired. No prescription LEXOTAN online, I suspect in Stewart's case, she will eventually be the Weekly's editor-in-chief.

So What?

What difference does any of this make. Can't we still get all the information we need from the Web with or without the L.A.Weekly?

LEXOTAN FOR SALE, You bet. Now more than ever. The Weekly, whenever it formally succumbs, will also go as silently as did New Times Los Angeles six years ago. Only some of us old farts who remember the Good Old Days will, perhaps, bat an eyelash and gather for a nostalgic drink in some Echo Park dive.

The tragedy lies elsewhere. For nearly 30 years, the L.A. Weekly had been a crucial launching pad for budding local (and sometimes national) writers, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. It was a place you got started, where you found your voice, where you made your chops and maybe even a name, get LEXOTAN. That possibility is just about completely foreclosed. The Weekly was also an indispensable market and venue for more established writers who had important things to say that somehow overflowed the narrow confines of the L.A. Times.

The L.A. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, Weekly also served an extremely engaged, sophisticated and cosmopolitan and I might add global Los Angeles. I once wrote a piece for The Washington Post noting that Hollywood activists often cared more about South Africa than about South Central. Take it or leave it, there's an undeniable truth to all this. And a newspaper that fails to understand that vast swaths of Los Angeles are as deeply concerned -- if not more than concerned-- about Iraq, torture, the White House or even congress than they are about the local school board or the controller's office is a Los Angeles newspaper that is destined to fail. Look no further than at the corpse of The New Times Los Angeles.

The slow-motion collapse of L.A. Weekly also coincides with a radical shrinking of the L.A, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. Times, the implosion of The Daily News and the continuing downward descent of smaller papers like City Beat and The Daily Journal. Purchase LEXOTAN for sale, If there was ever a time for an aggressive, irreverent, credible metro weekly to take on the Gray Lady, it's right now, right here. That requires investment, not layoffs -- seriousness and not shoddy, half-arsed ideological crud passed off as news.

I have no doubt that leafing through the Weekly in the weeks and months to come there will still be -- here and there-- great things to read. The movie and theater critics remain top notch (they are kept on because their work can be inexpensively syndicated to the rest of the chain). LEXOTAN FOR SALE, And the law of probabilities dictates that an occasional good or even great freelance piece will slip between the covers. But what good work remains will be there in spite of the will of its ownership, not because of it.

A Few Words About the L.A. Times

I said at the beginning that I write this with no bitterness nor regrets. Really, scout’s honor.

That's true, LEXOTAN without a prescription, with one asterisk. I rather deeply resent that I have to do this at all. I'm pissing away a perfectly beautiful weekend morning to slap this together when, truth is, the L.A, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. Times should have written this story --in much fuller and precise detail-- months and months ago.

I'm not going to single anybody out, but heaven knows that the media writers at the L.A. Times have wasted no energy in wallowing in public self-pity about the troubles at their own paper. How is that the fully public, ongoing, extended crisis of the second paper in L.A. and the largest metro weekly in America -- the L.A. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, Weekly-- has gone completely unreported and unmentioned. And I might add, why would anyone care about the future job prospects of endangered L.A. Times reporters who don’t have the decency or the professionalism to report on the massacre at the paper next door?

The answer resides in the ingrained arrogance of the Times. Australia, uk, us, usa, Like most big city newspapers it has a written or unwritten policy of ignoring its competitors. Only in print, of course. Not in real life, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. For as long as it has been around, the Weekly has been consciously snubbed by the Times. I think one half-baked profile of the Weekly was written some years ago and that’s about it. The Weekly could break a verifiable story that L.A. had just detached from the mainland and you could make book that the Times would refuse to cite the story, or its source. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, The same way the Times pointedly ignored the existence of the Weekly, it also pointedly ignored the reality of the Web. And we see how that hubris paid off.

In real life, as I said, it's been quite the opposite. The Weekly has gone anything but un-noticed by the Times. It has revamped, retooled and re-positioned whole sections and created whole new publications like Metromix to directly compete with the Weekly. Two of the Weekly's former editor-in-chiefs were recruited to work at the Times. The current Weekly editor is a Times alum, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. The Times has repeatedly raided the Weekly staff, poaching its TV, film, music, feature and metro reporters.

In short, the L.A. Times owes a great debt to L.A. Weekly. The least it could do is assign one or two of its reporters to find out what's really going on inside that other paper across town – before it disappears completely. -- + --

LEXOTAN FOR SALE, P.S. I intend the above to be strictly a personal recollection and in no way an official history. Some dates and timelines might be inadvertently smudged or jumbled. I apologize in advance for any such minor errors. Also feel free to add your own corrections, recollections, objections and comments. I also affirm that this piece was written without consulting any current employee of the L.A, LEXOTAN FOR SALE. Weekly and therefore trust that no retribution will be exacted against them

P.P.S. I'm reminded by a friend that I omitted one important facet of the Weekly's history. By the mid 1980's, the Weekly had become a potent cultural/political force in Los Angeles, frequently sponsoring or co-sponsoring major events that drew audiences of hundreds and sometimes thousands. I'm not talking about concerts or typical metro weekly give-aways. LEXOTAN FOR SALE, The Weekly galvanized huge live audiences for debates on foreign policy, for conclaves on local organizing, and conferences on national politics. All things rather unthinkable today. I doubt if the current Weekly could pull off a booze-up in a brewery. Indeed, until shortly before the move to Culver City last year, the Weekly organized monthly and well-attended soirees at a classic old-school Hollywood hangout, Boardman's. Those, too, have faded into history.

Update: Here is Nat Hentoff's just-published farewell column at the Village Voice. Take all of the geniuses who now run the NewTimes/VVM chain, stack them head-to-head, and they don't make it past Nat's navel.


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232 Responses to “LEXOTAN FOR SALE”

  1. Michael Balter Says:

    Marc, thanks for yielding to popular demand and posting this history. Thanks to you, I launched my career as a fulltime journalist at the Weekly in 1984, when you convinced Jay Levin to run my piece on the health risks of spraying malathion over much of the city to kill off a fruit fly plague. After I filed it, Jay called me up and said it was “better than I expected it to be,” huge praise at the time. Jay was nutty but way ahead of the curve in reporting on Los Angeles. Over the next 4 years, before I left LA for Paris, I wrote 20 stories for the Weekly, including several cover stories. One, an expose of LA’s contaminated water wells, led to state hearings; another, a lengthy investigative piece about a young Black woman who claimed (credibly) that she had been gang-raped by LA police officers, led to a long conversation within the LA Times about why they had not done that story (they knew about it.)

    I mention all this not to toot my horn but to add to the record, and to recall the days when the Weekly really made a difference in LA and gave writers like me the opportunity to do work we could do nowhere else.

  2. Marc Cooper Says:

    Thanks for the memories Michael. Your stories were uniformly great and really represented the best of the Weekly in the 1980′s/

  3. reg Says:

    Jesus this is a bizarre story. Much of it, frankly, makes no sense in any rational terms. And Jill Stewart ? Somehow – I think it was Arnoldmania – she became a state-wide phenomenon briefly a few years back and what a piece of shit ! A category of personality that I can’t help but “free associate” with Joe Lieberman.

  4. reg Says:

    Wow – I’ll give Jill Stewart credit for canny self-promotion. Her wikipedia entry reads word-for-word exactly as her own bio on her website.

    Wonder how that happened ? Must have been the work of that infinite number of monkeys who can type Shakespeare.

  5. Marc Cooper Says:

    Reg, it hurts to laugh that hard. Good catch, though.

  6. Ron Says:

    Since were sharing I’d like to add this little nugget of illiterate suck into the mix. I remember a day when everyone I knew would eagerly grab a Weekly as soon as it hit the stand, now I can’t think of a single person who’s mentioned it in the last year or so. Here’s hoping something comes and takes its place soon.

  7. Woody Says:

    This sure exceeds my self-imposed reading limit of 250 words. Lucky you.

  8. jh tompkins Says:

    nice piece, marc. thanks for running it. there’s too much at stake for the kind of real alt-journalism once practiced at the weekly to simply live as a bunch of “back-in-the-day” memories. let’s see what the next couple of years bring…best, tt

  9. Bart Says:

    But as the westside lefty contingent ages, doesn’t the Weekly have to seek an new audience?

    And the personal attacks on Stewart sound like old-boys-club grumbling. Just because Kevin Roderick dislikes women, does that mean that Cooper and all others must agree?

  10. Michael Sigman Says:

    Great piece; couple of minor comments.

    1. The Weekly’s page count averaged 220 pages in 1999, and we published one issue that exceeded 400 pages. “Best of LA,” I think in 1999.

    2. Leonard Stern bought the Weekly from Jay & company in 1994 in an all-cash transaction. Leonard sold it to the vulture capital guys, with all that nasty leveraging, in early 2000 at the top of the market.

  11. J. Finchbottom Wrigglesby Says:

    “Within months, it was clear that Lacey and Larkin were banking on the perceived talents of their lead columnist Jill Stewart. Once a respected L.A. Times metro writer, Stewart had become a snarling bulldog infected with a rather strange world-view which came to dominate The New Times Los Angeles. Ostensibly some sort of a suburban Democrat, she became an acolyte of The Powerful — swooning successively over Dick Riordan, Bernie Parks and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others. While the official policy of the New Times Los Angeles was that columnists were to stick to facts and steer clear of opinionating, Stewart used her platform to smear one Latino city councilman as Senor Snort (for alleged coke use) and as she fulminated against public schools and bilingual education and offered up sugary praise for the corrupt leadership of the LAPD, she evoked a vision of a muddle-headed dyspeptic city run by an evil coalition of socialist multi-culturalists who were headquartered, of all places, inside the L.A. Times. One infamous column she wrote mocked those who showed sympathy for Spanish-speaking kindergartners who broke into tears when they were put in monolingual classes. She saw her job as spanking lefty L.A. back to reason.”

  12. Mavis Beacon Says:

    I inadvertently switched on the KFPK show “Inner Visions” yesterday and within five minutes got the full treatment: magical healing gold, contrails, and the 9/11 conspiracy. Hopefully not a marker of where things are headed for the weekly. At least they still have Gold for the food recs.

  13. Listener Says:

    I read the warning, and although I’m not a California resident at all, I persisted to the end. I’ll chalk it up to a perverse interest in sausage making.

    Thanks for putting this piece out there, Marc. No one might agree with me, but I think perhaps this autopsy is a analog writ small for what seems to be happening in some of the larger print publications. For example, I’m thinking of Murdoch’s takeover of the WSJ. I’m not sure I don’t see the “talents” of Jill Stewart being replicated elsewhere.

    Thanks, again.

  14. Evan Says:

    It’s too bad that City Beat has been monkeyed around with almost constantly for the past year–there was a time there where it was much more rewarding than the Weekly, with Alan Mittelsadt and Andrew Gumbel.

  15. 323 Says:

    Great piece. Stewart is a blight on L.A.

  16. Joe Donnelly Says:

    Great obit, Marc, thanks, especially for pointing out the LA Times’ lameness in covering this. But would it have killed you to mention my name? I could use the publicity.

  17. capt Says:

    Thanks for the piece and a bunch of insight.

    All interesting and really sad.

  18. Mencken Says:

    I don’t know about Jill Stewart or the new ownership, and admittedly I have not followed the Weekly for as long as Marc has. So I don’t know whether the quality has declined, but I do know in the last year or so the Weekly has done some good stories, which Marc doesn’t seem to acknowledge. Again, I’m not saying he’s wrong in his assessment of a long-term decline in quality. But I thought the Weekly piece exposing the “fake” homeless shelter project was well-reported and interesting. I was impressed with some other pieces, including those on alleged serial killer that has gone under the radar, the mayor’s schedule and the female firefighter recruiter program. That being said, I’m not disagreeing that the qualify may have declined over the last few years, but I think Marc is wrong to imply that the whole mag is just crap. Perhaps that good work is occurring in spite of Stewart and the new ownership, but let’s not insult the writers by dismissing some good work they have done. Unfortunately I think Marc’s negative experience has prevented him from engaging in a balanced assessment here.

  19. Mencken Says:

    Sorry I neglected to read the passage where Marc said there is still good work being done despite the ownership, so I have to clarify my last post. I apologize. However, I’m a bit troubled by his statement that the good pieces will occur because of “the law of probabilities” – in other words, seemingly by accident. Any pieces that come through will be through the hard work of the journalists there, and not by some sort of chance.

  20. Third Charmer Says:

    The LA Weekly still holds the same basic format for covering the local theater scene, treating what some hard working and talented people create as meaningful in a community where few others do. So let’s hope those critics get to continue to do so; even if they are working for slimeballs.

    While I am less enamored with the Weekly’s writing on film than Marc Cooper (Ella Taylor’s O.K., but in gaining J Hoberman over Manohla Dargris is a BIG trade upwards) it was always fun to read what they thought.

    It was Marc Cooper’s tenure at the rancid New Times that first made him a suspect figure to me. He forgets to mention the original New Times also pushed the LA Reader, often at least as worthwhile as The Weekly, out of town. This past year,
    when I read one of many of Cooper’s slanted hit pieces on Hillary Clinton on the same page where a cartoon called her a “lying, two-faced, castrating bitch”, well, the New Times was back again.

    But whatever. Now that we know this, what do we know?
    If Capitalism is supposed to let ideas fight it out; why do rich companies take a loss providing a less popular, right wing product to communities that obviously want something more to the left? Why does Washington D.C., the most liberal city in the country, offer it’s citizens a choice between a center right newspaper and a far right newspaper, even as people stop reading newspapers? Aren’t there any rich liberals who want to buy the Weekly and make money on it?

  21. J.T. Says:

    This is for Michael Sigman…Michael, How loudly did you protest the firings of Steve Appleford and Alan Mittelstaedt at your own “paper?” It’s sure funny to see you post here while you’re taking City Beat to a similar demise.

  22. Michael Turmon Says:

    @Bart –

    The Weekly that Stewart and the New Times crew displaced was not mainly for Westside liberals. Actually its cultural ground zero was closer to the flats of Hollywood, and the east side of Hollywood at that. As you should know.

    And an honest appraisal of the early-2000s version of the Weekly would see that it was in fact less rigidly left than it had been in (say) the late 1990s.

    @Mencken –

    You have a point.

    But consider this. Something the stories you name have in common is “the politically correct and bureaucratically entrenched LA government system is broken beyond repair”. The issues for me are, how many such pieces do I want to read? And are they really newsworthy?

    Sure it’s tough to get a large bureaucracy to solve some problems, or to change its customary practices. But doesn’t a focus on these gripes seem like the self-absorbed concerns of suburban homeowners? (I’m one, in fact, but I try to keep some perspective about it…)

    And what political agenda do all these mosquito bites serve? It comes off to me as a justification for “starve the beast” ( tactics.

    Since a gripe about the bureaucracy and the “system” seems to be the real animating force behind these little pieces, why not engage that issue directly and do a longer piece that tries to examine causes and solutions? Wouldn’t that be more of a service to readers?

  23. Steven T. Jones Says:

    Thanks for posting such a detailed history of how New Times has contributed to the demise of good journalism. I’ve worked for one of their incompetent, company-man editors before (Tom Walsh, who now edits the painfully bad SF Weekly) and I can reinforce what you say about how their neocon ideology colors all they do, even if they won’t admit it, even to themselves. And I feel fortunate to now work for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, which has labored mightily for years to expose the New Times approach even as we’ve suffered from illegal predatory pricing tactics by the chain, for which we won a $15 million jury verdict that Lacey will do everything in his power never to pay. You can say enough bad things about this malevolent corporation, but I’m glad that you tried, Marc. Good luck.

  24. David Crook Says:

    Dear Marc:
    As a former Angeleno (1979-1995) and LATimeser (1981-1993), I thoroughly enjoyed, if that’s the right word, reading your piece. I haven’t shaken my head with so much disgust and resignation since Staples Centre.
    Anyway, I’ve been on the other coast for 13 years now, and I follow the LA media scene mainly through Jim Romenesko and Kevin Broderick.
    One question. Well, actually, two…
    What the hell is going on out there? For 20 years it’s been just one damn thing after another. Can’t anyone in LA run a newspaper?

  25. jim hitchcock Says:

    Reading the political pieces by Marc and others such as David Corn was precisely why I looked forward to picking up each weeks new copy…oh, that and the occasional story about fishing (in particular the one off the Santa Monica Pier).

  26. Amanda Says:

    Let us know when the old farts gather in Echo Park — I think your former students who inhabit said neighborhood could point you in the direction of the still-remaining dives :)

    Nice article for those of us who weren’t around to see how everything got to be as bad as it is…

  27. Anna Churchill Says:

    Aug 4-10, 2006 LA WEEKLY cover story by Sam Slovick. A huge piece on skid row. Coincidentally just discovered I had kept this while unpacking the other day.

    And pieces like the one on Ry Cooder and Chavez Ravine. Beautiful.


  28. Sam Sinister Says:

    I’m one of those regular L.A. residents
    ["The Weekly was read avidly for 30 years by an audience that relished not only its excellent cultural, film and music coverage, but primarily its bold and prominent political writing-- including a rich menu of commentary and opinion"]

    I started reading the Weekly (and the Reader) in around 1982, in 10th grade, and when I did — All The Lights Went On.

    The biting seething brooding City of L.A. spilled out when you opened it. Intellectually and culturally – but those are staid words.

    The Weekly had a genuinely eccentric intelligence, and a sort of teeth-ripping-open directness. I craved it every week. Robert Lloyd, Robbie Conal, John Powers, covers that said “Contra Cocaine!” Lots and lots and lots more, over years.

    L.A.’s alt-weeklies have died with a whimper, not a bang, so the current demoralized state of things is not a surprise, although it is shocking.

    Nothing nowadays in print grabs hold of your innards like the Weekly/Reader did back then. Perhaps the Internet is the next avenue (and already has been for a while).

    Fuck those guys

  29. Michael Sigman Says:

    To J.T.

    I do some consulting for Southland Publishing, which owns LA City Beat and a number of other pubs. I’m not an owner or employee. In the case of Alan, whom I think is terrific, I didn’t know about that till after the fact. I did know about Steve, whom I also admire greatly, but reasonable people can disagree about whether the paper could benefit from a change in editorial direction. The new publisher/editor is Will Swaim, founding editor of OC Weekly and one of the most talented guys I know.

  30. drone Says:

    Fuck Jill Stewart. Straight up: fuck Jill Stewart. Congrats, Marc, on leaving that excuse for a human.

  31. Jane Says:

    For what it’s worth, to me the Weekly in its heyday seemed to despise straight white women. (Unless, of course, they were prostitutes, in pornography, etc.)

  32. JAT Says:

    I have to admit that unless someone points out factual problems with the Zuma Dogg/Stewart piece, I found it a telling overview of the sort of common faux “re-development” that primarily benefits developers at the expense of the general public. Now if the complaint is that it is just an overview, that is a different thing.

  33. Peter Byrne Says:

    Lacey, a self-hating old fucker, is firing everybody over 50 he can find. I sued his absinthe-pocked ass a few years back and had no regrets. I also kept the option to say anything about this reactionary pig that I want. He is single-handledly destroying the alt-weekly function in America. Well, Larkin and his editor-toadies, like the incredibly STUPID Jill Stewart and Tom Walsh and Tony Ortetga are helping him. The sooner New Times goes bankrupt, the better. And Lacey owes the SF Bay Guardian $20 million big ones, so it should be soon. Then we can clean up the mess and restore some good investigative journalism!

  34. Don Ray Says:

    Marc, you’ve done it again. Thanks so very much for the autopsy report of the late, great Weekly. What I liked about it — in the old days — was that it wasn’t afraid to buy a story that maybe people who lived more than a mile from Sunset Blvd. might want to read.
    Whether it was an obit of a Burbank bowling alley or a hard-hitting piece on what LAPD referred to as “The Nigerian Mafia”, Kit and the other editors were open to my work.
    There’s a place for all kinds of journalism. Who can forget the cutting-edge, nearly taboo stuff we squeezed into “The Rebel” during it’s short-lived glory days? Thank the news saints that icons such as the “San Francisco Bay Guardians” are still willing to dig in their heels and fight off the evil forces.
    By the way, your writing gets better with each keystroke, it seems. Although my favorite is your condemnation of Yuppie when you wrote something to the effect of, ” . . . she thinks that El Salvador is the the name of the city’s largest domestic agency.”
    Again, thanks for your straightforward history.

  35. jim hitchcock Says:

    Peter Byrne needs to tell us how he really feels…

  36. Andy Van De Voorde Says:

    Interesting, but you leave out one key detail. Andy Van De Voorde, Sundance to Lacey’s Butch, apparently has curious bovid proclivities.

  37. J.T. Says:

    Michael Sigman spinning said, “reasonable people can disagree about whether the paper could benefit from a change in editorial direction.”

    The votes are in. The paper didn’t benefit from your selection of uninspired OC staffers who almost make Jill Stewart look Pulitizer-ready. Same as the LA Weekly didn’t benefit when you fired one of their best editors, Kit Rachlis. Reasonable people can agree that your consulting position at City Beat, where you had two weeks to reverse your “prize” editor’s firing of Alan Mittelsadt (yet didn’t) has put them at 32 pages and falling. There’s a long list of things that went wrong with LA’s alternative weeklies. Don’t be surprised to see your name near the top.

  38. Kit Stolz Says:

    Too true…and very depressing.

  39. Roxanne Says:

    The acquisition of the Weekly in the mid-90′s saddled the Voice with a debt level from which it has never recovered.

    Hmmm. Is that true? Or is it more likely the subsequent acquisitions of Seattle, Minneapolis, Nashville, etc.

  40. Billy Says:

    This is a sad story. Lacey’s always been an ass, railing against alt-weekly journalism he believes to be too biased but then always shamelessly swinging his own axe. I mostly agree with his criticisms — most alt papers stink — but when you buy a beloved paper, with a well-known personality, you shouldn’t try to radically change it. You may be right, but whatever changes you introduce should be in character. It’s a business that relies on reader loyalty.

    The same tragedy happened in my hometown to the beloved Chicago Reader, a great paper that the owners believed needed to completely change to compete with a Time Out rag. When the demise of the alt-weekly is finally recorded, it should be noted that death was a form of suicide.

  41. bunkerbuster Says:

    Thanks for the inside view, Marc. It couldn’t have been easy to dredge through all that, and I congratulate your boldness in making the tough choices of who to name, who to blame and who to shame.

    I still don’t know, though, why the Weekly has failed to sustain its initial success in journalism. Based on the above report, I can’t quite believe it’s simply a matter of poor selection of editors, reporters and overseers. As Marc points out, almost all the key staffing decisions were made under the duress of cost-cuts and so, some sort of losses were inevitable. We could of course debate whether such cuts were necessary or avoidable, but Marc steers clear of that issue.

    The success of a free weekly depends foremost on advertising sales, not readership numbers. Of course the two are related, but don’t correlate directly.

    Many a free weekly has foundered because its sales force wasn’t effective enough, its distribution wasn’t wide and/or consistent enough and too many display ads sold on credit could not be collected on.

    I suspect that the New Times formula for success turned far more on its ability to hire, motivate and administer an ad sales and account collections team and to distribute newspapers efficiently than on its editorial instincts.

    These are all good reasons not to worry too much about the L.A. Weekly’s incremental demise, however deeply we may nostalgiaize and lament the trials of hard-working journalists victimized by poor management and a cratering economy.

    The journalism hasn’t failed, apparently, the business model has, so we have every reason to believe the writers and editors will keep working and, most likely, will find more reliable, rewarding sponsors.

    As Marc’s piece shows, free weeklies are often where young or new journalists get their start, but only in rare cases like LAW and VV do they become sustaining venues for established professionals. They have also been a place for voices outside the mainstream as defined by metropolitan daily newspapers like LAT.

    Still, the free weekly model has been terrible for the overall long-term health of American journalism.

    It has dragged editing and writing wages down by propagating the dominance of advertising as a sole revenue source and encouraged metro dailies to write off or sideline urban and/or progressive views in favor of suburban apoliticism and/or consumerist-conservatism and neutered, fake ideological “balance.” Worse, it has given paper-and-ink incarnation to consumers’ perception that even “real” news isn’t worth paying for.

    I even get a sense that some journalists buy into the idea that news is something on the order of a public utility. While the typical reader demands news that’s free or close to it, the typical journalist pretends that a drop in advertising revenue doesn’t necessitate job cuts and that a publisher’s first responsibility isn’t to keep the revenue flowing, but to make sure editorial coverage makes the grade.

    Not saying this stuff wouldn’t have happened without the spectacular rise of urban weeklies like LAW, just pointing out that their advance added momentum to the trends and, more important, their demise may help reverse them.

  42. Danielle Steele Says:

    The New Times model was a success because it flourished in towns where there wasn’t much available.

  43. Randy Paul Says:

    I don’t think that you really need to be an Angeleno to appreciate how said this is. Here in New York, as you noted, the Village Voice, the pioneer alt weekly, has essentially become a pennysaver with a small dose of steroids.

    I read this with incredible sadness, Marc. Notwithstanding the proliferation of media available, so much of it is just crap. As for Pajamas Media, in the event that there’s any doubt that they jumped the shark, Joe the Plumber will be reporting from Israel for ten days for them.

    The mind reels.

  44. Marc Cooper Says:

    I could respond to much of what has been written above but won’t (just to be difficult). I will say that Danielle has hit a key point. The original Phoenix New Times made a big splash in the 1970′s and 80′s precisely because the then-two competing MSM dailies were abominable, worse than the SF dailies, which is saying a lot!

    The success went to the heads of Lacey-Larkin and they have tried to export that model to their other outlets. Los Angeles is NOT the corrupt podunk backwater Phoenix was 25 years ago. And say what you will about the LATimes, it was no Arizona Republic — thank God.

    I also want to mention that I have gotten a lot of private responses to this piece. A lot of in the form of congratulatory email from inside the Weekly — like notes passed between prison bars.

    I have also received a number of very, very moving private notes from readers who have reaffirmed just how much a piece of their lives the old Weekly was, especially in the 80′s and 90′s and how saddened they are by its evisceration. Anyway, thanks to all for reading thru this cathartic mess. I’ll see some of you a week from Saturday night you know where :)

  45. Marc Cooper Says:

    Randy… Indeed, the PJM move is stunningly stupid. That’s another outfit with which I tried to make a modest contribution only to be met with a WALL of dumbness.

  46. bunkerbuster Says:

    Experimentally, just think of all the journalists who might still have their jobs if it weren’t for Mike Lacey. Then think of all those who never would have had a job in the first place if it weren’t for Lacey. Then do the math.

    The clearest theme in Marc’s piece is: they needed me way more than I needed them. It seems safe to assume he views the other talented staff the same way. Or does he? If he really believes himself, the logical upshot of Lacey’s appetite for destruction is the liberation of all that talent, not the lamentable loss of a golden age.

    Or maybe the truth is the Weekly’s journalists need Lacey more than he needs them, surely a lamentable reality, but true nonetheless.

  47. Aurora Says:


  48. Rebel Girl (aka burritomama) Says:

    Thanks Marc.

  49. Mister Miss Says:

    Marc – I will never forget the day we were called to the upstairs conference room and given the news of the sale (and I won’t forget Donnelley’s reaction either), it indeed was a sad day of disbelief and it is really sad to see and hear about all the casualties that have been had in the last 3 years, not just the great wonderful people, but also the casualties of the paper overall…I can not believe its almost half as thick. Thank you thank you thank you for disregarding their lame gag-order non-disclosure agreement and telling it like it is/was.

    P.S. Does Beth still wear her uniform of too tight white tshirt and army green capris? Just wondering.

  50. Sam Says:

    Some of the comments above that ring true to this ex-Angelo:

    “What I liked about it — in the old days — was that it wasn’t afraid to buy a story that maybe people who lived more than a mile from Sunset Blvd. might want to read.”

    and, at its best:

    “The biting seething brooding City of L.A. spilled out when you opened it. Intellectually and culturally – but those are staid words.”

  51. Candy Says:

    Thank you, bunkerbuster, for even mentioning advertising in the same breath as edit, as blasphemous as it might be. In the 80s and 90s, the sales staff was stellar, despite the disdain rained down by the edit staff. Someone even said, “I just try to ignore the ads.” I wonder if he tried to ignore his paycheck, too, cause last time I checked, that was pretty much the only way FREE weeklies collected any revenue.

  52. Michael Turner Says:

    I still check this blog now and again, and I have to say it’s stirring to see Marc in such fine form with this piece.

    “the original Phoenix New Times made a big splash in the 1970’s and 80’s precisely because the then-two competing MSM dailies were abominable, worse than the SF dailies, which is saying a lot!”

    Yes. Between the Examiner, the Chronicle, and the SJ Mercury News, you could almost stitch together one decent newspaper back then. I doubt things have improved much since. My main memory of opening the Chron is of thinking, “As usual, very nice Macy’s lingerie ad, but . . . where’s the news? Oh, I see it, now: up there along the top, for a few inches?”

    You don’t have to be any tree-hugger to see that sort of “journalism” as a criminal waste of trees.

  53. J.T. Says:

    @ Candy,
    Indeed the alt weekly model is charge the advertisers and give the newspaper away for free, which works but means you ought to hire the best sales staff you can find. The Michael Sigman consulting model is, when you are a total flop at doing that, fire the best editorial staff you ever had, blame them when you are in fact an utter failure, bring in a succession of “the most talented person I know” and fake it from there. I’ll rephrase this. On a short list of what went wrong with LA alternative press, Sigman should not be surprised to see himself at the top of the list.

  54. SIR Says:

    As an LA Weekly alumnus (1982-1989) and a survivor of the bloodbath at the SF Weekly in 1995 when the New Times bought it, I thank you for going on record about the venal New Times management and presenting, what seems to be, a pretty clear overview of the dismal situation in “alternative” publishing. I hope Bruce Bruggman gets his check soon.

  55. Disappointed Says:

    Actually, the model that L.A. CityBeat and its sister papers employ is: hire people with no sales experience, pay them barely enough to live and then act surprised when they 1.) can’t sell ads 2.) harm the paper’s reputation with their lack of professionalism 3.) quit and leave behind a mess for the next inexperienced sales person to clean up. Then, blame on the editorial staff for the lack of ads. Oh, and throw a bunch of money at a snake-oil salesman website developer who sets your publications back five years.

  56. bunkerbuster Says:

    Apparently, Disappointed, it IS a lot harder to find good salespeople than good journalists.

  57. jim hitchcock Says:

    Turner: “I still check this blog now and again…”

    Seriously, MT, are you really staying that busy editing VCR manuals? ;)

  58. famis Says:

    My one minor disagreement with this very good and important and sad story is that I found the Kit Rachlis era by and large to have improved the overall quality of the paper and the editing while still hitting the high notes. As much as I admire Jay Levin, it was an important bridge from a freewheeling era to one that demanded higher and more consistent editorial standards.

    I am not from LA and alas not familiar with the more recent characters or stories. But I do know Mike Sigman, and know him to be a rare publisher who comes from an editorial background and is a man of integrity and experience. I’m curious about “J.T.”‘s vitriol, and always suspicious when an anonymous poster attacks another, especially one who has the courage to use his real name.

    In the meantime, it’s hard to imagine that Mike has anything to do with the demise of the LA alt press — unless he’s responsible for Craigslist, the real estate crash, free porn advertising on the web, the rise in the cost of newsprint, distribution companies raking in high fees for access to key distribution points ….

  59. Judith Lewis Says:

    Joe Donnelly: Your tortoise piece rocked. And those notes you left on Laurie’s chair about my nuclear story were great, too.

    Thanks for the great piece, Marc. Though you didn’t mention Joe’s singing or my handstands, you did, as far as I can tell, get everything right.

    Those New Times people are embarrassing. I slunk out with neither hair-on-fire nor severance mostly because I was ashamed to be associated with them. I feel for the many talented people who are left.

  60. Chris M Says:

    For a public-school educated Hoosier transplant landing in LA in the early ’80s, the LA Weekly was an eagerly anticipated weekly window into a bewildering and fascinating megalopolis and its worldview. The Weekly played a vital role in making me a more sophisticated customer of news and culture and linked me to investigative writing and activism that had been missing from my young life. It was important.

  61. Alison Ashton Says:


    What a wonderful piece. It should be required reading for journalism students, since the tenets of good reporting should apply to any medium–print, I’net, whatever.

    I recently returned to LA after a long hiatus away (most recently in Birmingham, AL, where I looked to the local alt paper, the Birmingham Weekly, rather than the city’s tepid daily, for spirited, dogged reporting about B’ham’s corrupt, now-indicted mayor). I remembered the Weekly as a fun, lively, insightful read and was disappointed by what it’s become. It’s sad.

  62. Tuesday Says:

    Lots of personal axes being grinded in this piece. I can speak about the demise of the Village Voice. It suffers the same affliction as other newspapers: too much competition for people’s free time. The Voice was already being ignored before it became a free giveaway. The countercultural audience of the alt-weekly was small and aging. Under Guiliani, tons of yuppies moved to NYC. They didn’t give a crap about those expose stories or the point of view of the Voice reviewers, writers, etc. The paper was in a death spiral.

    When the Voice became a free giveaway, its circulation actually went up dramatically. But no one was picking it up to read it–it was useful to get cultural listings or classifieds. New, free alt-weeklies appeared, plus the slick Time Out NY and then the accessibility of listings on the phone (such as Moviephone) made the free Voice only something to pick up if you were killing time standing in line for an ATM. I can’t tell you how many barely opened issues lay in those vestibules.

    Once the Internet arrived, the commentary, reviews, listings, and classifieds were all found whenever you wanted right in your house. I’m even surprised the Voice is still around. The bottom line is that there is such a tiny audience for the point of view of the alt-weekly, it cannot afford to pay for itself. This is the same story happening across broader newspaper media.

  63. Thursday Says:

    Tuesday’s right: Becoming free saved the Village Voice. But then her argument spirals into the same nonsense spouted at every failing shop — it’s not our fault; it’s the Internet or the economy or yuppies, yadda yadda yadda. In my experience, people will pick you up if you’re interesting and entertaining. If you’re providing the same crap they can get elsewhere, no matter the spin, you’re in trouble.

  64. Kari Says:

    I stopped reading regularly after Joe Donnelly left and entirely after Marc left.

    This was a terrific, illuminating autopsy.

  65. Dennis Romero Says:

    Regarding Michael Sigman’s comments about CityBeat (not City Beat): A change in editorial direction is not what has happened at the paper over the last year. It was an out-and-out gutting of its core editorial staff. The paper went from a fulltime equivalent founding staff of 6 1/2 people (including me; compare that to any other alt-weekly in a major American city) — and still made some decent journalistic waves — to what it is now, maybe 3. Steve Appleford resisted the inane shell games of its publishers (clouding business performance by blaming the overworked and overachieving editorial staff, promising that a redesign and relaunch would bring new business, tapping staff for other projects such as New Angeles, enlisting paid consultants at a time when it could barely afford to produce basic journalism) and paid with his job. After Steve left, substandard pieces that had been rejected under his watch were published, a publicist was allowed to write about a venue she represented, and things clearly fell apart.

    To spin this ill-conceived downsizing as a change in editorial direction is utter bullshit. Remember that the paper had Steve for five years. With the help of deputy editor Dean Kuipers, the little paper that could somehow managed to attract talents such as Andrew Gumbel, David L. Ulin and even Tom Hayden. It is now on its third editor in the last year (and he doubles as publisher). Change in editorial direction, or stripped to the bone? You decide.

    I know it’s a business, and you have to do what you have to do to survive (CityBeat has its beautiful art deco building on the market). That’s fine. So say it. Don’t say editorial direction as if though CityBeat’s demise in 2008 has been an aesthetic choice.

    I admire Will Swaim and have sincere wishes that his hiring represents a rebuilding of CityBeat.

  66. Kevin Says:

    “Between the Examiner, the Chronicle, and the SJ Mercury News, you could almost stitch together one decent newspaper back then. I doubt things have improved much since.”

    Things have gotten much, much worse. The Examiner, as such, no longer exists, and the Chronicle and Mercury News are loads of crap. For the Mercury News/Contra Costa Times/Oakland Tribune (they’re basically all the same paper now) in particular, MediaNews seem determined to run them all straight into the ground.

  67. Joe Donnelly Says:

    Thanks, Judith! Back at you. Miss you!

    Marc, what an incredible service you’ve done for the journalism community by starting this dialogue that I’m sure will be studied and discussed for some time. I’d just like to add a few things and possibly jeopardize my future freelance opportunities with the LA Weekly.

    Tuesday has pointed out some social/cultural context for the demise of the Village Voice, but that context didn’t make anything inevitable. Bad decisions did. The playbook for how to make an alt paper relevant in a post-60s culture was being written at the LA Weekly under Laurie Ochoa, and the talented staff she assembled and the talented staff she inherited that she gave the freedom to thrive.

    The Weekly was a spirited place. Anyone who came to the editor’s meetings in which ideas were tossed around, vetted, sometimes harshly, but always with humor and good intentions knows that something special was happening. A walk around the current offices, in which one’s voice echoes from the emptiness, can see that the spirit is gone. It feels like a tomb in there.

    The Weekly’s stunning financial and journalist success from about 2001 – 2006 was primarily a result of the paper consciously transcending the alt-paper ghetto. No writer, artist, or story was too big for the Weekly. We had the audacity to offer readers a great read and a great looking paper at the same time. There was no sense of being second rate, at all. The Village Voice could have done the same, but decided, in panic over Time Out and Craigslist, to go down market. The Weekly went up market and that decision made it successful as a business and journalistic enterprise. It transcended the alt-paper paradigm. That idea is something that the current ownership, who seem to think that Santa Monica is downtown Los Angeles, and who are for all intents and purposes alt-paper slumlords, seem incapable of grasping. New York and Los Angeles are sophisticated places and demand quality, not juvenilia. The Weekly was able to meet this challenge with often stunning success. For all their legendary bravado, the current management seem pathologically afraid of greatness. I saw that when I worked at New Times LA, which is why I went over to the Weekly.

    None of this was inevitable, just incredibly unfortunate.

  68. B Says:

    Hate to say it, but Tuesday’s assessment pretty much sums up the main factors that have contributed to the Voice’s shrinking relevancy.

    I can say that because I was on staff at the Voice at the onset of the dot-com era in the early Naughties and through 9-11, and I was often bemused to observe the impressions of twentysomethings regarding the Voice.

    They weren’t so impressed with the paper itself as they were with the music listings and the huge full-page ads taken out by the city’s various music venues outlining the month’s concerts.

    Actually, now I don’t have to bother with going to something like the Voice to see concert schedules. I have all the venues’ websites bookmarked for me to view anytime online.

    I left the paper realizing that “liberalism” was an anachronism. Most people’s ideas today either go against or cannot be confined in that category. I often felt like the commentary in the paper wasn’t relevant to what most people were thinking and saying. I mean, I used to balk at the successive endorsements of someone like Mark Green. It’s like, are you kidding me?

    I often felt like the paper had missed the mark of so many major societal changes–for better or for worse–that were going on to focus on the same viewpoints that fit into an ascribed category of what is appropriately “left.”

    Hell, gay men didn’t even read the paper anymore. They probably stopped reading it a long time ago.

    People in journalism put down blogs and the Internet all the time, but clearly there’s a whole range of views that people are finding online–for free, much like a weekly–that are not being addressed in the press.

    Also, I often wonder if people just get tired of feeling like a newspaper is putting a ruse on them. They act like they have an objective point of view, but they don’t; they’re either responsible to their advertisers’ or their owners’ agendas. They should have the balls to be straight with us about that. That’s one of the factors that makes me feel like readers want to exercise their options for information. Newspapers fell into the complacency of believing that they were the only life-line of information, when it’s just not true.

    I feel sad that VVM has handicapped all of its newspapers by adapting an ill-fitting format for different brands across the country, but in a way I also feel like those fired writers will find new venues in a new format.

  69. Marc Cooper Says:

    Joe Donnelly. thanks for ur right-on comments. I think you have nailed it. For those who don’t know, Joe was our great Deputy Editor was removed and simply not replaced though he did most of the weekly heavy lifting of editing cover stories and other features.. Thanks Joe.

    As to commenter “B” — I won’t suagr coat this but I am not sure you know what you are talking about. You lived a certain reality at The Voice during the late 90′s and that can’t be denied you. But you had already boarded a ghost ship. The classic Village Voice was slaughtered in the period of 1994-96 by David Schneiderman who ended all pretensions of serious journalism as the core of the paper. Editorial budgets were slashed, 2/3 of high paid (professional) editors and writers were canned, and the paper was give away free on the street. When the Lacey team arrived in 2006, they merely re-arranged the trash piles. I suggest you look up the history of the late, great Robert I. Friedman to understand what happened to the Voice in the mid-90s/

  70. Michael Sigman Says:

    I was publisher of LA Weekly for nearly 20 years, until 2002. The firing of Kit, which I handled poorly, took place in 1994. The work of the two editors I hired after Kit, Sue Horton and Laurie Ochoa, speaks for itself, but for the record I think they were, and are, outstanding editors.
    I should have been clearer about LACB. The paper has suffered major budget cuts, which clearly have consequences. As for editorial direction, Jay Levin, the founding editor of LA Weekly, was hired as an editorial constultant early last year precisely to effect such a change. Jay left after a few months, and there’s been much turmoil since then. Whatever anyone thinks about the past, maybe it’s worth picking up the paper to see what Will Swaim et al can bring to the table.

  71. Always Will... Says:

    Bottom line…the LA Weekly produces 185,000 papers per week. There are 9 gazillion people in LA. If you haters dont pick it up, someone else will. 185,000 is formitable in the newspaper circulation ranks, but it is still a pimple on a fly’s ass. In short, with 9 gazillion people in our great city, La Weekly will always have 185,000 people to pick up the paper each week. They always will. No matter how many of you haters there are. Always. And just because you dont find it “cool”, “relevant” or “sexy”, doesnt make it true. Go LA WEEKLY.

  72. Alan Mittelstaedt Says:

    Jesusfuckingchrist, Joe Donnelly is finally right about something when he says:

    The Weekly was a spirited place. Anyone who came to the editor’s meetings in which ideas were tossed around, vetted, sometimes harshly, but always with humor and good intentions knows that something special was happening.

  73. Marc Cooper Says:

    Actually. Will, that’s not necessarily true. People aren’t robots. They “pick up” papers for certain reasons — even free ones.

    There’s one long standing theory about LA Weekly called the “telephone bank” principle. Conceived in the 1980′s it goes something liek this: it doesnt matter what articles you run in the Weekly, you could run the telephone book, as long as the calendar remained solid. That MIGHT be true, at least to a great degree.

    Except, increasingly, that sort of calendar of events and movies is now pushed to cell phones by dozens of other outlets making the Weekly calendar far less relevant. Add that to shrinking editorial copy, throw in an economic recession which creates a plummeting in small biz adveritising, think about the migration of sex ads to the Web and then reconsider the use of your word “always.” You know, I also once worked for Playbot (before the Web). Didnt matter what u put in the mag copy wise because 8 million people wanted to see nude women. With nude women now on the Web for free, Playboy’s circ is down 80%. Not very “formitable” [sic].

  74. Dennis Romero Says:

    Regarding Mr. Sigman’s last comment about CityBeat: Bringing on Jay “Real Talk” Levin was a genius move on the part of CityBeat’s publishers. He’s the guy, by the way, who hoisted the publicist on the paper as a contributor (see my last comment).

    And he’s the guy who pretty much insulted every decent journalist in town by saying we were missing the real L.A. and that he was going to bring it with his one-issue Real Talk – and then failed to bring it by hiring inexperienced staff of color and reproducing stories that had already been done by those of us who had supposedly failed the L.A. market (Wassup Rockers?).

    I appreciated his blowhard calls for diversity, but his Real Talk project felt more like exploitation to me.

    CityBeat’s publishers hiring him to explain what was wrong with the paper as it begged for staffing and editorial funds was just icing on the cake. While Rome was burning CityBeat’s publishers were bathing in a pool of consultants who stood by while distribution points were hit-and-miss, ad reps missed ad sales because they weren’t reading the paper, designers were asked to take half their time and work on other publications, a publicist wrote about a client, a music writer wrote about a sexual hook-up in a review, etc. I could have told them what was wrong for free, but maybe that’s why I don’t make the consultant money like you, Mr. Sigman.

  75. Rob Grocholski Says:

    No way. No way I’d have believed this story about Jill Stewart ‘fronting’ for Zuma Dogg as a LA Weekly reporter unless I had clicked on the link above saw the byline in the article. WTF?! Zuma Dogg? The same galoot that spouts off inane dribbling tirades during city hall comment period? No wonder no one watches channel 35! ‘Reporter’ at the LA Weekly? Fook. Then I’m about due to be the next Edward R Murrow.

    Want a good laugh on par with Randy Paul’s catch of Joe the Plummer turned Middle East reporter? Zuma Dogg is running for Mayor of Los Angeles.


  76. Always Will... Says:

    Playboy has one industry supporting its pages. The LA Weekly has more than 30 industries supporting several categories of editorial. Playboy cannot evolve into a different editorial concept. LA Weekly can. It will. It has before. I bet it has happened several times since 1979. I would even bet if the 1980′s had blogs there would be a bunch of people saying the same thing you’re saying today. The LA Weekly had different ads and edit back then. They do now. They will in 2013 as well. And beyond. The only real difference is DIFFERENT people will be reading it. Again, I say Always.

  77. Nate Says:

    This nails it:

    “Looking at the Voice logo on one of its weekly editions was like looking at an Alfa Romeo badge crazy-glued to the nose of a broken-down Toyota Corolla.”

  78. There’s No Fat Left to Cut! Pass the Pork Rinds! | Emergent Disorder Says:

    [...] those (few?) aficionados of long-form (of course!) alternative weekly pissing contests, this j’accuse by L.A. lefty Marc Cooper aimed at the newish owners of the LA Weekly is something to behold. I [...]

  79. B Says:

    I suppose I’ve been put in my place then.

    Great piece, anyway.

  80. j Says:

    Great. Start your own alt-weekly in the model of the “old” Weekly. If yours can gain pages amid the unprecedented economic and technology changes that have battered all newspapers and, more recently, all alt-weeklies, then I think you’ll have a pretty solid argument. Otherwise, I think the facts you’ve laid out about the Weekly’s circulation decline are more likely coincidences that fit neatly with your sour grapes.

  81. Kelly Davis Says:

    As a current Southland Publishing employee (working at San Diego CityBeat), I back-up everything Dennis says and ask all alt-weekly owners to take his advice: Listen to your staff. They’re usually your target audience; they know what people are saying (or not saying) about your publication. They know the competition and they know who’s doing things right. They can tell you what’s wrong for free.

    Thanks for this piece, Marc. I, too, mourn the loss of the old L.A. Weekly (and picking it up at Aron’s Records… RIP).

  82. rick barrs Says:

    marc, as always, the angry lefty, the ideologue posing as journalist. you wear that like a cheap suit, brother. ‘why can’t it be like it was back in the old days!’ boo, hoo! cool off! god knows you’ve taken care of yourself, but you could stroke out. jeeze, this rant is 6,000 words! used to take me months to get that much copy out of you, and i’d have to rewrite it (you still desperately need an editor). hey, i was around to read the weekly during some of those ancient days you revel in — and i can tell you it was more propaganda sheet than newspaper (even to liberals, like myself). i got laid a couple of times from the personals, but otherwise it was pointless. a bunch of “progressive” navel-gazers writing pompous screeds. the endorsements? what a joke. why would anybody read them; everybody knew exactly whom the weekly would favor: every liberal candidate, however flawed or crooked. as for new times l.a., you worked there for years! in fact, you walked away owing us stories we’d already paid for. though you now profess to hate us, you had no problem taking our money. then, or lately. jeeze, you even admit here that you were checked out for two years as you continued to draw paychecks at the mike lacey-owned weekly. very professional of you. and, man oh man, you’ve got a fascination with jill stewart! you know, love and hate are a hairbreadth apart. i remember your citing jill as the reason you were screwing us over at ntla: “i can’t work at a the same publication as jill stewart!” you ranted. “it’s her or me!” well, marc, it was her then, and it’s her now. what’s most hard to swallow about your rant is your outright contempt for anybody’s point of view but your own — when all you’re about is lefty propaganda. doh, you’re not exactly famous for investigative reporting. i’m not saying you didn’t report a few good stories at ntla. my favorite was when you busted danny bakewell’s nuts. yeah, i know, when you left ntla you said the stories we had you do embarrassed you with your lefty pals, like mike davis. you were particularly upset that we’d run a story exposing one of his books as a load of fact-challenged crap (jill didn’t write that; denise hamilton did). really sorry to bust up all the marxist butt-smooching here, but somebody needs to tell you how full of shit you are.

  83. johndicker Says:

    Marc makes the point that the Lacey/New Times/VVM is across the board ideologically opposed to opinion writing. They think it’s all slapdash, lazy opining. Frank Rich, some kid with a My Space blog, same difference. It’s not reporting so it doesn’t matter.

    Ironic then to watch the chain, mostly fail, in the world of blogging where opinion has always ruled the roost.

    Their blogs lack the spontaneity and vitality of other non VVM weekly blogs (see The Stranger’s Slog for an example of what a staff blog can be like when it’s good) yet the chain is increasingly putting more resources into their web operations – on both ad and edit sides.

    Ideology is butting up against reality, be interesting to see what Lacey’s next card will be.

  84. jim hitchcock Says:

    Yeah, maybe Marc needs an editor who doesn’t capitalize the start of a sentence…

  85. J. Finchbottom Wrigglesby Says:

    Rick Barrs’ post is a fine example of the adolescent, reactionary, nasty, self-defeating, snide, and did I mention ugly. . .sort of discourse that so poisons everything today. Barrs has perfectly valid points to make, but they are rendered inconsequential by his venom. It is possible to be cutting and pointed without rage, Rick. . .though apparently not in your case. I am one who has enjoyed aspects of the Weekly through the years, including first-rate reporting that often made The Times look like the flabby, ill-focused thing it has so long been. I also enjoyed the hard-hitting and sarcastic New Times, until it became too infected with smartassiness for my taste. And while I absolutely revile Riordan and Schwarzenegger and their pro-development ruination of L.A., I think Jill Stewart’s point of view about this city is very spot-on. I am utterly delighted that she is in a position to shape some news coverage, and to counter what, as Cooper eloquently puts it, she (correctly!) considers to be “a vision of a muddle-headed dyspeptic city run by an evil coalition of socialist multi-culturalists who were headquartered, of all places, inside the L.A. Times.” I’d rather see her running the Times, frankly, but will settle for the Weekly.

  86. Marc Cooper Says:

    Full disclosure, my friends. The squealing and yelping you read above from a certain Rick Barrs requires he better identify himself. He is more than a pet chihuahua for Mike Lacey, Rick is also the current editor of the New Times flagship paper in Phoenix, which means he’s not only Lacey’s pet doggie, but that he also has his own little doggie in this fight. Himself!

    (Rick was also captain-in-chief of the U.S.S. New Times Los Angeles, a ship he mightily ran aground and whose rusting remains can still be glimpsed on dark nights at the corner of Olympic and Sawtelle). Before Barrs failed to keep NTLA afloat, he left behind an undistinguished record as something like asst deputy night editor of the L.A. Times’ San Fernando Valley Bureau (charged with getting the names of DUI victims correctly spelled).

    I know that Barrs has entered this dispute as a loyal witness for the defense but I know appeal to the judge to declare him state’s evidence. Indeed, I offer up his comment as Exhibit 1A of the sort of sophomoric, abusive, petty and rather bullying attitude that permeates the New Times mgmt culture. All of it, by the way, a mimic of the tantrums frequently thrown by Big Dog Lacey. (In fact, next time we hear some slander from the top let’s get it first hand — let’s hear directly from Lacey instead of from his trained seals like Barrs).

    I offer no defense against his slanderous charges. It’s absolutely true, as I stated, that I was inside the Weekly offices three times since New Times took over. Sitting through just one editorial meeting and watching Jill Stewart’s eyes roll back into her head as she rambled on about the socialist Mayor was enough for me. I did, however, in those two years produce something like 75 bylined pieces. I hardly had to be in the office with a couple of wingnuts in order to write my pieces. Moreover, out of my sheer naive generosity and stupidity — and by a request from The Company– I allowed New Times to cross my daily personal blog with no additional compensation. Who ripped off who?

    But back to Rick Barrs, who demonstrates his dubious ethical standards by not disclosing his personal stake in all this.

    What a wonderful day it was when I resigned from NTLA — precisely after I told Barrs that I could not countenance the personal smears the paper was being used for. At the lunch meeting prior to my decision, as Barrs was pressuring and hectoring me, indeed, to finish a piece that I no longer wanted seen in the sullied pages of NTLA, he got up and went to the bathroom. While he was whizzing, his deputy editor at the time, Jack Barnes told me: “You know you are right,” he said about my complaints regarding Stewart’s tarting up of the paper. And then inclining his head toward the john to which Barrs had retreated, he added: “But there’s nothing that can be done about it.”

    I said zip but right then and there decided that was quite enough with this crew.

    As to me being an angry leftist, I guess Barrs doesn’t read my blog or my former Weekly columns which frequently took on the left. And, angry? Sorry, but I’m not the guy inside the New Times who is known for screaming at his employees, pounding on furniture, berating them and threatening them. Neither is Barrs — at least not exactly at that level. But he knows exactly who I am talking about.

    With great pleasure, I say again: Cee ya, Rick.

  87. J. Finchbottom Wrigglesby Says:

    P.S. And by the way, whatever is wrong with the Zuma Dogg article that Marc Cooper cites as an example of “illegible” writing? It takes the wonderfully, thrillingly correct position that spending $2 billion to decorate Grand Avenue with things to please rich folk like ego-dripping Frank Gehry is an absurdity. Who would argue that this money could not be better spent (starting with transit)? The article seemed perfectly fine. A strange charge to make.

  88. jim hitchcock Says:

    “…who is known for screaming at his employees, pounding on furniture, berating them and threatening them.”

    So, what you’re saying, is that Rick Barrs is Steve Jobs without the, uh, vision.

  89. Lassiter Says:

    The Weekly has been a paper where you could count on reading a great mish-mosh of interesting, constrasting stuff through the years. Much of it was just the most annoying sort of preening. Much of the writing was hip-speak pose full of requisite profanity (to show how cool and unpretentious we are!) Much of it was damn good investigative reporting and superb criticism. One common thread is that it all seemed to have ultimately endorse L.A. as some grand place to live. This is probably unavoidable, if not not requisite, to some extent, in an L.A. publication—but nonetheless just shy of revolting. The best reading in the Weekly, for me, has always been that which took L.A. pointedly to task for its horrible city and county government, its pompous, fatuous newspaper, its inability to ever effectively curtail traffic, gangs, density, development. The cumulative criminality involved in all this is staggering, and the Weekly’s better reporting at least suggested this to be the case. Here’s hoping that, whatever the financial odds and policies of new editors, that this continues. (Not that it will ever make any difference.)

  90. Rob Grocholski Says:

    Wrigglesby — I think you missed the point in the column above. Cooper sites Zuma Dogg as an example of Stewart’s poor decision in bringing in ‘reporters.’ I don’t know if you have ever met the ‘Dogg’ but I have. It took me all of one 5 minute chat with him to realize that he’s a full fledged loon. This nugget in Marc’s story has me leaning very heavily for a conviction of wingnuttiness on the part of the Weekly. But hey, don’t take my word for it, just check out ZD as he reveals his shoe size IQ at the podium of city hall during the next comment time.
    Channel 35.
    Don’t say you weren’t warned.

  91. heartattackandvine Says:

    You all realize that this conversation would never be possible in the letters section of an alternative weekly or mainstream newspaper. All I can say is, “Wow.” This is like stumbling across the Beach Boys arguing with Murry Wilson in the recording studio. Maybe we could get Steve Garvey and Don Sutton in here to pick up where they left off.

    Marc, I have a suggestion. Keep up this proscenium busting pie fight with all the old cast of characters and throw in some ad revenue, I guarantee I’ll be back to read some more. If it bleeds…

  92. Josh Says:

    I read the weekly from 1995 till about 2007. I think that the 2000 – 2005 were fantastic years. The OC Weekly was great as well.

    The OC Weekly is a great case cause the paper went into free fall even before the LA version. It is a piece of crap now. They got them all. Carona. Hydal, and many more corrupt OC officials. Commie Girl was great as well. The paper perfectly fit the market. Without them, OC has the Register, a terrible right wing rag that does nothing to police officials. The LA Times has cut back on its OC coverage so Orange County really does suffer.

    I live in Long Beach and the Press Telegram is sad. A city the size of Miami Beach that houses the larges port in North America has no real news coverage. Very sad.

    The folks at the Weekly did a good job and thanks.

  93. Pamela Klein Says:

    Hey Marc, I am thrilled to see this dialog rage and grow and dance and become something great on its own. I was head of research at the Weekly for 15 years, right smack in the middle of its 280-page-days, worked with almost everybody mentioned and everybody who replied. I had my troubles with the lot of you, but I can honestly say that the Weekly was the coolest place on earth to work. Everybody cared about something, was on some mission, wanted to start a fire somewhere. I left when the flame was almost out, a short time before Lacey finally destroyed everthing we ALL worked for. Why would anybody take a newspaper of distinction and character, a mangrove for new talent and voice, and empty it of all its value and worth? I know the old staffers left at the Weekly are miserable. And the ones let go are still trying to find their way. The proofers and the copyeditors, the artists and the writers and the salespeople, who ALL once had a vision of Los Angeles, they are in mourning of the loss of a once so vibrant and spirited community. It was a lot like this spitting and howling going on here, and nearly as respectful.
    I don’t know what is left, for I can’t bare to read it. In a Uses and Gratifications study, I wonder what one who picks up the Weekly now might go to it for. When I was there, it was for Rockie and Robie and Ron and Kat and Judith and Burk and Ventura and Davis and Alan and Bell and Gold and Blume and for Life in Hell. It was to be cool and connected to folks who cared about something that the Times didn’t see, or overlooked or purposely ignored. It tired to stay close to the streets. It tired. And there were lots of stars, to this only one Jill. And there were lots of opinions, to this only one Jill.
    There is life after the Weekly, I can assure everyone. But oh, what a life that was. It was something journalism school could never teach you.

  94. J. Finchbottom Wrigglesby Says:

    Thanks, Rob Grocholski, for clarifying. I have no problem imagining that “Zuma Dogg” is a full-fledged loon, as you say. No argument with Cooper’s assertion that “Dogg” might well be unfit for reporting. What I can’t figure out is his citing as an example (his link) the story about the $2 billion Grand Avenue redecoration, which reads perfectly okay to me. If Stewart rewrote it to make it readable, then it would seem that in that instance, she did her job. Seems unlikely that Cooper has any argument with the point of that article—that the money could be better spent elsewhere. As to Cooper’s article here, it’s a typically well-written and thoughtful assessment of a type we’ve all been lucky to count on for years.

  95. Stephen Box Says:

    Well worth waiting for, this journey is captivating. Thanks for all letting us in on the ride!

  96. rick barrs Says:

    you squeal like the stuck pig that you are, marc.

    everybody knows who i am; it’s right there in the comment. unlike many in your tribe of sycophants, my name’s on what i wrote. and i said i was your editor at ntla; only the simple-minded couldn’t figure out the rest.

    and, by the way, the managing editor you mention was jack cheevers, not barnes. (your usual inattention to detail; why can’t a guy with your experience get the facts straight? you have so many fact errors in just your little response to me that you prove a couple of my points.) and that incident never happened. our conversation was over the phone. you’d never have had the guts (i didn’t say gut) to say what you did to my face (in fact, we’ve never spoken since that day, though you you did run up and hug me around the waist — sammy davis to Nixon-style — at an la press club banquet after i won an award for busting the times over the staples center mess. that was really embarrassing for you. my goodness, what would mike davis have thought?)

    point is, what you write in your screed stinks of those sour grapes you mention. anyone in the know with half a brain realizes that. i’m not going to call you a liar, because you’ve been blathering your load of bullshit for so long that you probably believe it. pity.

    notice, folks, that cooper has nothing to say about why he cashed the checks for sooooooo many years.

    as for facts, marc, mine are straight.

  97. J. Finchbottom Wrigglesby Says:

    Barrs, you really should get to work on the sequel to “The Wild Bunch.” That “squeal like a stuck pig” was straight out of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” As for cashing checks, my guess is that Cooper did this in order to pay rent and eat. As for Cooper’s revulsion at having to work “with wingnuts,” I’d be curious to know where a newsroom devoid of wingnuts might exist. Not in any I worked in. By the way, J. Finchbotton Wrigglesby is my real name. I was born in Saskatoon in 19-ought-six. I’m older than the wind.

  98. Tuesday Says:

    Thursday writes:
    “In my experience, people will pick you up if you’re interesting and entertaining. If you’re providing the same crap they can get elsewhere, no matter the spin, you’re in trouble.”

    Very true. But today, even if you have the readers, it doesn’t mean you’ll get the advertisers to pay for it all. That’s the conundrum of our times and so far a new business model hasn’t emerged to replace the old way. This is at the heart of the problem for the LA Weekly and Village Voice, etc.

  99. Friday Says:

    Barrs, dude, you actually got LAID out of the personals? How’d you swing that? Nice work.

    Is there anyone here reading this blog who won’t forever after consider you a freakin’ nutjob? You’re like, I don’t know, onomatopoetic [god I love spell check] or something.

  100. Marc Cooper Says:

    Some more responses from moi:

    1) Thanks for you fine note, Pam Klein. Your contributions to the Weekly are legendary.

    2) Finchbottom: You old coot, I LOVE ur name. As to your question about Zuma Dogg. Go back and re-read what I said in my original piece: Zuma Dogg DID NOT write that article. It had to be entirely re-written by Jill Stewart who, I know for an absolute fact, continues to heavily rewrite much of the Weekly “news” copy she commissions. I know this directly from the writers affected and its an open secret at the Weekly. So I dont have a problem with the piece per se other than the highly unethical move of hiring a gadfly clown to be the supposed objective reporter at the same events he disrupts. Of course it is well-written. He didn’t write it!

    3) Oh damn, looks like I’m gonna have to once more don my hazmat suit and get down in the gutter for one more response to Rick Barrs. Hate to break this to you, Rick, but it’s not true that everybody knows who you are. Don’t get an inflated view of yourself. Most people have NO idea who you — or your paper– are! You do indeed suggest you were my editor at NTLA but you conveniently omit to mention in a public debate over the New Times that you are currently the editor of the chain’s flagship paper. Get serious, man.

    Paw up all the dirt you please, but here’s the fact. If I’m a scammer and a phony then I’m a damn good one! Ive been successful at doing this for some 35 years now and at dozens of publications that wouldnt let you in the front door — and with a couple of book publishers as well. So if Im not at least a pretty good journalist, then please recognize my talents as a world-class con man! I want my due credit. That’s a lot more honorable record than subsisting for a dozen years off the teat of Mike Lacey. And one of us (and it ain’t me) ought to be VERY concerned about what his next job is going to be :)

    Yes, I confused your former deputy editor’s name. Barnes was actually Cheevers. My usual inattention to detail, as you put it. But forgettable times are populated by forgettable people — much like your shipwrecked New Times L.A. is remembered by virtually nobody.

    Not that anyone gives a hoot, but the incident I describe with you and Cheevers certainly did happen. The lunch took place at the restaurant next door to NTLA and the day we were there Johhny Depp had just come in. Cheevers told me exactly what I wrote here. I actually have the notes. I didn’y say I quit then. I said clearly that I said NOTHING but had in fact decided to quit. Something I told you on the phone a day or two later. The greater point here is the acknowledgement by your deputy that you, your writer and your boss were beyond any ethical restraints. Case closed.

    And, yes, whenever that was a year or so later (1999?) when you won the L.A. Press Club award for your Staples story coverage I most certainly did give you a warm hug as you passed by my table. That’s because, apart from my gruff pose on this blog, I’m actually a very warm, generous and forgiving person (a veritable Teddy Bear) and I believed sincerely — that besides my differences with you and my personal regrets for ever having worked for you and NTLA– there was no reason not to congratulate you on a job well done. Especially if I didn’t have to deal with you in any other way after that moment. I was simply being gracious, a trait not very much honored around the New Times shops.

    I don’t think, however, that this incident was actually very embarrassing for me — as you suggest. If you will recall that moment, that’s the same evening I was awarded the prize by the same Greater Los Angeles Press Club as Journalist of the Year. Hardly a downcast evening. LOL. I must have scammed those turkeys as well.

    To use your words, I “cashed those checks for so many years” (two to be exact) because the editors of the paper and the owners (i.e. your current boss) appreciated my ample work (dozens and dozens of columns on campaign 08 and the Bush admin) and wanted me to stay and keep writing. What would really be embarrassing would be to reprint the mash note I got from Master Lacey when he sent me a bouquet last year after I was hospitalized. He expressed his surprise I had been so sick because he said he never noticed any interruption in my productivity. So let’s close that chapter, unless you as an official of the company wishes to engage in some legal exposure about defamation of a former employee. California law is a bitch on that issue.

    Let it be noted that you had ample oppty, as editor of the Phoenix New Times, to use my bandwith to respond to the substance of my screed. You could have enlightened the readership with an argument as to why the New Times model is necessary and successful, how NT has improved the LA Weekly etc etc. But leopards don’t change their spots, no matter what they imbibe.

    Instead, you more productively demonstrated exactly what ails your organization. Your open, snide and snarling contempt for the readers. writers and editors of the L.A. Weekly, at least for those readers of the Weekly in the first 28 years of it’s existence, is a perfection reflection of the suicidal hubris and intellectual tone deafness that pervades the entire corporation. It’s a simple business model, really. Screw the readers. They’re a bunch of left-wing wussies and weenies who need to be straightened out by the paper they once respected. And if it that means cutting it in half and replacing serious news gathering with monkey chatter, so be it.

    Feel free to list me as a reference when your job hunt begins. And I suspect these are indeed the last words you will hear from me. You are not worth the time.

  101. Laureen Lazarovici Says:

    Marc, thank you for your penetrating and insightful piece. And thank you for catalyzing such a rich conversation. It is so gratifying to seem some of my old comrades in this conversation. I remember the days when cars would line up and double park on election day and night outside the L.A. Weekly offices on Hyperion to get the indispensable candidate and ballot recommendations. Those days are long gone, and at precisely the moment when we need political coverage and commentary that will not only help readers move the progressive agenda forward but also keep the newly elected officials and newly resurgent movements accountable.

    –Laureen Lazarovici, L.A. Weekly staff writer, 1989 to 1994

  102. Marc Cooper Says:

    Thank you for that memory Laureen. Apparently you are one more nostalgic, mindless lefty. It’s difficult to overstate the importance that those ballot endorsements had and that are blithely dismissed by Barrs.

    What made them so important was NOT, as he says, the rather predictable endorsement of the top Democrats. It was, instead, the recommendations made on low-profile down-ballot, local and intitiative elections in which most readers were left clueless without the Weekly voting guide.

    Oh well.

  103. rick barrs Says:

    marc, you know you love the attention (heh, look at the length of your response). just like you secretly love jill stewart. tone deafness? we’re still standing. your old, hippy-dippy paper has gone the way of the dinosaur. extinct. bye, bye.

    (btw, it’s “bandwidth,” you idiot.)

    funny that you write this screed, because, when you worked for ntla, you used to harp about how horrible the weekly was back in the day. you laughed about how the weekly had sent people to central america when it didn’t cover its own back yard. but you’ve always been a chameleon. you love whoever’s paying you — at least until real journalism gets too much in in the way of your politics.

    golly, marc, i thought we were friends back then (i’m getting all misty).

    you allude to new times’ ruining the weekly, citing the once 200-something-page issues. marc, have you heard about the economic crisis? the shrinking of the weekly has all to do with that and nothing to do with what you cite.

    and shucks, mark, don’t cry for me. i’m sure i’ll still be working in the news biz after you’ve stroked out, or choked on bile. “what was that cooper was muttering when he croaked,” someone will ask?

    “mike lacey, mike lacey, mike lacey!

  104. J. Finchbottom Wrigglesby Says:

    Thank you, Marc, for the explanation re: Zuma Dogg. I have to admit that I have a bit of a weakness for hiring um, eccentrics, in newsrooms. I once had an editor who thought his legs were invisible. Really. Of course, he was also a decent editor, so I assume that compensated. . .Someone needs to report Barrs to the Department of Animal Regulation.

  105. J.T. Says:

    I guess it’s pretty obvious to the reading public now that Rick Barrs “journalist” is not one you’d share a secret with. Did anyone say “undisclosed source?”

  106. J.T. Says:

    But I suppose a man who shares that he got sex through the personals might not consider that anyone else has “secrets.” It’s a bad trait in a reporter though.

  107. Danielle Steele Says:

    Rick Barrs’ screeds sound suspiciously like the angry rant produced by Bill Jensen for the Village Voice’s formerly-respected Pazz and Jop poll.

    Just curious: If you hang out with Lacey, do you turn into a raving lunatic?

    I had no idea who Barrs was, or Jensen (before he embarrassed himself). Lacey has coveted more successful publications and then ruined them trying to prove he knows better. He’s always destroying things to prove who’s top dog.

    (Even his comment — and later apology — about his “friend” Tom Fitzpatrick was delivered with a characteristically superior nod in the mirror.)

    Marc, why do you think Lacey has dumped on so many talented people and then tried so hard to make them feel like they’d failed themselves?

    I have enjoyed this thread, however. Full disclosure: I have never worked for (or met) Lacey, but I’ve watched his “antics” for years.

    Johndicker, Lacey may say he’s “ideologically opposed to opinion writing,” but every time you pick up one of his papers you feel like you’ve been hit in the head by a two-by-four. Art, or truth, are of no interest. And that’s why he’s in this mess.

    New Times isn’t having problems on the Web because they lack ‘tude — it’s because they’re not fun or entertaining or interesting. They care more about ‘tude than truth.

  108. Peter Byrne Says:

    Damn: I forgot to list the beady-eyed Rick “The Finger” Barrs as one of Lacey’s stupid toadies. Hey, Barrs, why did the poor benighted Phoenix New Times staff reporter, Marnie, essentially kill herself with various chemical substances in your apartment? She had to work with you, but did she have to sleep with you, too? Is that OK? for the editor to be having intercourse with his employee? Just curious. Would the Head Toad do that? (Who is Sarah Fensky?)) What a sewer New Times is.

  109. Rob Nail Says:

    I’m with Tuesday regarding the decline of weekly (and daily) papers. The lack of a cogent business model–one that considers and accounts for rapidly decreasing ad revenues–is the reason why antiquated publishing practices are no longer viable.

    Yet gatekeepers like the NT still want their peace of the pie. Unfortunately, these gatekeepers have not figured out a way to cope with the changing times, other than to slowly bleed their businesses dry. All media is in a state of flux, and no one knows exactly how future generations will get their news or even their entertainment. This is a painful reality for people who have paid their professional dues and own lifetimes worth of admirable journalistic service, people like Marc and so many of the commenters here. Still, we all would be best served if our most talented writers, journalists, and entertainers would stop perceiving traditional media outlets as the zenith of professional achievement. It is time for a mass hands-washing of the “editors” and “producers” who happened to parlay the right connection into delusions of grandeur, a sense of entitlement bearing the right to judge a more talented person’s professional worth. Idealistic, I know. I’m just commenting on a blog.

    To briefly summarize my LAW connection, I picked up my first copy the day I moved to Los Angeles in 2002, and I could probably count on two hands the number of paper issues I missed over a six-year period before leaving this past June. Grabbing the Weekly was, well, a weekly ritual for me. I had never seen a newspaper like it–the depth of opinion writing, the colorful film and theatre criticism, the feisty personality. And as I have learned, I was not reading anything resembling the paper’s heyday. Marc was the first political writer to intrigue me so much that I looked up his name and found his blog. The engrossing investigative stories kept me up late at night…my favorites came towards what has been described here as “the end”–Jeffrey Anderson’s pieces on Owens Lake and the hilarious tale of the community gang activist who used city handouts to put up a front for his own gang activities. Around 2007, I definitely noticed the paper seemed to be missing something. The long features were gone. The political commentary lacked its customary bite and intrigue. Marc, thanks for shedding light on what happened.

    I regretfully admit that I never once got laid from the personals. Maybe I should have paid more attention to those pretty girls in the back after all…

  110. Alvin Says:

    So I picked up my first LA Weekly in 1985, I was young and thought it was a cool free paper. I have now travelled through nearly all 50 states as an actor and dancer and have read nearly 150 weeklies. In every metro, town and hamlet you are likely to find a weekly paper. An alternative to the daily which you usually have to pay for. I have to say I still think the LA Weekly kicks but, I mean it’s FREE and despite what ya’ll may think it is one of the best sources for alternative journalism (as in non-daily, non-public traded media giant) in any major market. And I have read them all.

    I do think the road map for journalism with integrity has a future as the core product in a business model.

    Non-profit publishing.

    Just like NPR and Public TV, it is time in major markets for publishing to evolve with a new model – supported by “members” and endowed by benefactors and grants. I also think free dailies will become a major force in big markets….whatever…I think Marc did a good thing here if not a tad bit self-indulgent.

    PS – Maybe David Geffen should buy the LA Weekly….??? Turn it into a Non-Profit…fewer ad posts but good stuff between the lines…

  111. DTs Says:

    Man, that was a low blow that Peter Byrne took at Rick Barrs. But now that the wound has been opened, here’s some more salt. Great reading from the Web on Editor Barrs:

    I also found this self-serving piece by Jill Stewart six years ago on the collapse of her beloved New Times Los Angeles. Funny thing, the first story she mentions as representing the best of the shuttered paper is a critical profile of Danny Bakewell. She doesn;y say so, but it was written by……. Marc Cooper! In it she also refers to the L.A. Weakly in a disparaging way. Looks like Marc was right when he wrote she was chosen by Lacey to be News Editor at the merged Weekly precisely because she, and Lacey, do despised the paper they just took over. It’s sick, man.

    I hope Rick Barrs posts some more stuff here. Like the details on the sex he acquired from the hooker ads he said he utilized. This guy is really a dummy.


  112. DTs Says:

    Sorry. Here’s the link to the Stewart piece.

    And as much as I like what Marc wrote on this blog, I want to ding him just a little for pulling his punches. He vaguely hints at it, but everyone who knows anything about New Times knows that Mike Lacey has a certain proclivity for booze. He’s a raging boozer. I know that Barrs has the same rep, though I doubt he can keep pace with his boss. I also can’t verify what Barr’s level of drinking may or may not be. But he seems the master of unfounded accusations, so let’s add mine to the list.

  113. To Rick Barrs, et al Says:

    This sort of foul-mouthed, sophomoric, muck-racking blather is exactly why the New Times is embarrassing, exactly why the New Times succeeded in quickly dismantling the two most respected alternative newsweeklies in the country, and is exactly why the New Times, along with your Phoenix paper, is being written into history as a journalistic cancer.

    Congratulations on proving Marc’s point. It’s like you’ve been given drugs that eliminate all capacity for self awareness.

  114. Pulitzer? Says:

    This is all you need to know to comprehend the priorities of the New Times ownership:

  115. Sunday Says:

    Dear “To Rick Barrs, et al”: That’s exactly what I would’ve said had I thought of how to say it.

    I actually never understood how much superior Marc Cooper is to Rick Barrs until this moment. In fact, I hadn’t really thought about it.

    Barrs is a caricature of his company. It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time. Like a rolled-over SUV on the 405.

  116. noneofyourbizness Says:

    So all this mudslinging is supposed to be an example of fine journalism. I’ll stick to reading Perez Hilton.

    Children, all (or most) of you.

  117. Sergio Says:

    I first picked up the Weekly in 1981, when I was a teenager. I loved it for so long, just like I once loved the LA Times.

    Thanks for the memories, Marc and others.

    As Roy Batty said,

    …time to die.

  118. bunkerbuster Says:

    Who killed the L.A. Weekly?

    One thing’s for sure, nobody’s fessing up here.

    All we get is a bonfire of blame.

    For all the self-righteous bluster, paranoia and backbiting, why is there no one, big or small, willing to accept even a share of responsibility?

    It would be nice to hear one editor, one writer, one ad sales guy step up and admit that they at least share part of the blame.

    From Marc, for example, I have to wonder why he can’t muster so much as a morsel of regret that he didn’t do more to try and steer the paper in any way, given his certainty that he knows what it needed and didn’t need.

    He was “news editor” at one point, but, either didn’t aspire or have what it takes to go beyond that. Nothing wrong that, except that Marc seems so certain that he’s so much better than the others who did aspire and did have what it takes to try and steer the ship, rather than just complaining about where it was headed.

    Marc revels in the fact that he was such a fair-weather friend to the Weekly. Given that, you’d think he’d go a little easier on people who risked their livelihood on trying to make it work.

    Or was it a perpetrator-less crime?

    Was it truly an act of nature that destroyed the paper? An unfortunate combination of inevitable cultural drift and perfect economic storm?

    I lean toward the latter explanation, but the commentators here who actually know what happened sure seemed convinced that incompetence was the murder weapon.

    All my adult life, in every place I’ve lived, people have bemoaned how bad the local newspaper is.

    I’ve learned to write this off as, in most cases, a vain attempt to assert a kind of intellectual superiority. Especially since they very rarely, if ever, are prepared to make substantive comparisons between papers. It’s always, this paper is crap — boring, nothing to read, mistakes, and so on. So seldom is it: this paper is really weak compared with the other strong one.

  119. Fling Merchant Says:

    From Marc, for example, I have to wonder why he can’t muster so much as a morsel of regret that he didn’t do more to try and steer the paper in any way, given his certainty that he knows what it needed and didn’t need.

    Because when NT/VVM takes over a paper, no one on staff gets a word in about what to do. Everything is taken care of from above. And while NYC and L.A. are obviously the biggest pieces of the pie, this has happened at every paper they took over in ’06, whether good ones like City Pages in Minneapolis or not so good ones like Seattle Weekly. Very glad someone finally put this all out in the open–it’s not as if it isn’t common knowledge among ex-reporters in and out of the chain.

  120. Billy Says:

    This from the New York Times’ send-off for Nat Hentoff:

    “A lot of staff members have been let go since New Times Media, based in Phoenix, took over The Voice in 2005. (The company then recast itself as Village Voice Media. It seems to like the paper’s name more than the people.)”

  121. jim hitchcock Says:

    “…you have so many fact errors…”

    Uh, in proper English, shouldn’t that read `factual errors’? I mean, I hate to correct someone with such superb editorial credentials as Mr. Barr, but, hey, he started it :)

  122. Pamela Klein Says:

    Like The Voice, the Weekly was once quite organic and unpredictible. It became fat and relevant when Melrose became hip and trendy and the world spotlight was on Los Angeles. When Jay ran things, and the board was local, it was wild and spontaneous, all the way down to its personals. After the ownership changed, the paper became a business much like any other. This one was selling papers, but it might have been selling stockings, despite the fact that the product was a piece of the cultural industry…The personalities and the Calendar kept the readership loyal and strong, and growing growing growing. And the advertising staff was the best in the business, under Judy Jablonski. When I needed 34 pages for a special project, she sold it first to her staff, and then to the city. I was a part of a team. We were comrades together, ALL OF US. Yes, around that time even the ad reps had soul. I left when what I did was no longer valued, and when Hollywood seemed to set the agenda. And I wanted to write a book. The Weekly was not always a corporation, even when it was.

  123. Bob G Says:

    I can remember “The Finger” column in New Times, apparently written by Rick Barrs. It was at the level of a junior high school locker room, consisting mainly of taunting, including playfully pornographic nicknames used for the chief of police and other public officials. Jill Stewart wrote a little better, but later distinguished herself as a partisan hack who spearheaded the move to oust Governor Gray Davis and elect Arnold. She was, in her way, the mirror image of that old right wing accusation about liberal bias in reporting, except that in this case, the right wing bias was true.

    It may be that the targets chosen by New Times were worthy of exposure. The problem was that New Times, Barrs, and Stewart were so lazy in developing actual data to print. As a result, nothing much of substance came through, just a lot of name calling and insinuation.

  124. Marc Cooper: An Obituary for the LA Weekly | Pop + Politics Says:

    [...] This post originally appeared at Marc’s blog. [...]

  125. How Corporate Journalism Fails Us « Out Of My Mind Says:

    [...] Corporate Journalism Fails Us An obituary for the L.A. Weekly and, by extension, the Village Voice and all local progressive papers that have anything on their [...]

  126. Josh Says:

    Jesus. That Barrs guy is a real prick. Wishing someone to die is a bit overboard.

  127. Peter Byrne Says:

    The irreplaceable Mike Davis was and is a billion-times better writer than any New Times editor-toady. Seriously, there are some major psychological disturbances roiling around inside the elderly heads of this failing corporation, which is stuffed with Marty Perez-type libertarian, N-word-using, snarkbrains, in my opinion. There is something ugly and racist (and ageist!) at the core of this organization, in my opinion. In San Francisco, it does not even drop a single issue in the impoverished black neighborhoods. And misogyny just drips off the pages.

    Hey! Has anyone ever really investigated Lacey & Co.? Start with his corporate attorney, Steve Suskin, who is clearly incompetent at business law, but runs a successful DUI defense biz out of the NT HQ: check out his crime creds:

    And the former public defender in Phoenix has some interesting tales to tell about ole Mike and “get-out-of-jail-tonite” Steve. Let’s stop gabbing and get to work! I nominate Mike Davis as just the man for the job! He will have plenty of sources: slavering legions of disgruntled ex-employees far outnumber the dwindling staff of teenage bloggers. And most us are not shrinking violets.

    Arg, enough bile for one day. Back to work. This is fun, tho’, thx, Marc, I think. It is also very *sad* that an enterprise with such great potential disintegrated due to the personal failings of its owner.

  128. pepper Says:

    Josh: Why is it overboard? I pray for Lacey’s death almost every day.

  129. Gustavo Arellano Says:

    Marc: For you to say the OC Weekly was “sliced and diced” in early 2007 is wrong. Sure, the majority of the staff followed founding editor Will Swaim to Long Beach and start the eminently readable District Weekly, but we didn’t lose any editorial slots until this past month. And noticed who stayed on? The entirety of the news department, the very news department that’s has always been the bedrock of the OC Weekly, the news department that takes on the lords of OC and has the notches on the belt to prove it.

    To Josh, who said this:

    The OC Weekly is a great case cause the paper went into free fall even before the LA version. It is a piece of crap now. They got them all. Carona. Hydal, and many more corrupt OC officials. Commie Girl was great as well. The paper perfectly fit the market. Without them, OC has the Register, a terrible right wing rag that does nothing to police officials. The LA Times has cut back on its OC coverage so Orange County really does suffer.

    Are you even paying attention? Guess who’s probably going into the slammer soon? Disgraced ex-sheriff Mike Carona (and it’s “Haidl,” by the way, not “Hydal”). Guess who covered that trial and is still going strong at the Weekly? Scott Moxley. He got a wrongfully convicted kid out of jail last year. Nick Schou keeps ferreting out beating-happy cops; Daffodil Altan exposes crazy doctors left and right; Matt Coker deals with developers. I happily deal with the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal, our Know Nothings and Armenian genocide deniers. And we all stake our turf on corrupt officials. How do such recent accomplishments constitute “crap”? Don’t read our paper if you don’t want to, Josh, but to say we’re crap is, well, full of crap.

    John Dicker: I’d urge you to read our Navel Gazing blog. LA Press Club gave us the 2008 best blog for the Southern California market, beating out Reason’s hilarious Hit-and-Run blog.

    Finally, full disclosure: a couple of VVM papers run my ¡Ask a Mexican! column, but that doesn’t change the truth of the quality of the OC Weekly’s news team.

  130. shawnee Says:

    I find this post by Gustavo, whose work I love — to be somewhat myopic and disturbing. No reason to doubt what he considers to be remaining vitality of OC Weekly to be as he says. But he conveniently fails to even mention the larger issue raised by this thread. And that is how the New
    Times chain has buzzsawed its leading papers and what that
    net effect is on national alt weekly journalism.

    There has been a massacre and thankfully Gustavo has so far survived. But to not acknowledge or opine on the massive destruction taking place around him reveas either a selfish lack of solidarity or a very acute case of myopia. His little tree might be fine. But the forest is ablaze. Show so little interest in the fate of ur colleaguws and expect none when they eventually come for you. Triste, compadre .

  131. Josh Says:


    I am a fan of yours and have long enjoyed Ask A Mexican.

    The spirit of the Weekly left with Swain. Yes you guys took the piss out of Corona but that started before the regime change.

    Look, both Weekly’s still have plenty of fine writing and are better than nothing (especially with the OC Weekly cause their is nothing). But to say that the New Times has not done damage is probably required by your employment.

  132. DanO Says:

    As I recall Village Media bought the usually very good Minneapolis City Pages, and at the same time grabbed the rival Twin City Reader which it immediately shut down. This seems to be the strategy everywhere around the country for them. It seems obvious to me that the reduced competition at a minimum makes the alternative journalism scene less rich than it once was. Certainly true in Mpls./St. Paul.

  133. reg Says:

    This may be the best post and thread ever. And I have near-zero interest/knowledge in things LA. Also, “No Woody!” That always helps.

  134. Rob Grocholski Says:

    Off the demise of the alt. weekly topic — but more signs of the apocalyse — Bono is getting a column with the NYT. Will the LAT counter with gig column by Kayne West?
    What’s up with that? Does the NYT prefer celebrity over professionalism in the trade?
    What’s the point in even bothering to study journalism in college?

  135. reg Says:

    I’m afraid that Bono getting a column in the NYTs is actually a sign that the Apocalypse will never deliver us of the banality that steadily accrues while we merely wimper.

    This is the thinking man’s, East Coast version of Joe The Plumber heading to Gaza under the aegis of Roger L. Simon’s .

  136. reg Says:

    I’ve heard that this was actually a trade and Bill Kristol will be replacing Bono in U2.

  137. Jeffry Martini Says:

    Kudos AND Props for this Dissertation to Disservice for LA based “Papers” (as Jay Levin used to call the Weekly, the LA Reader and LA Times). I was there at the LA Weekly for the 1st year, hired by Jay and backer/actor/producer Michael Douglas as Associate Publisher, Advertising Director, having recently moved from New York where I was a National Ad Director for Rolling Stone and Publisher of Soundwave magazine. I’ll never forget the look of extreme pleasure Jay had when we passed the Sunday LA Times “Calendar” section (which was then in a “tab” sized 100+ pages week in and week out) in total pages with anywhere from 100 to 120 every week. Right now as I look at the Jan. 1st, 2009 edition of the Weekly (Weakly!) I see that it was down to 100 total pages. So right after celebrating their 30th anniversary, which I was invited to….the Weekly is all but a shadow of what it was in it’s heyday (when every Thursday, 200~300 page monsters were laid out all over LA awaiting free readers). I think your Internet assessment is spot on, that IS the future go to source for local and national news & information. That’s why I am currently working on and with I am very saddened by your having been let go, Jonathan Gold not returning my phone calls (just kidding here!) and the general state of disarray for what was (as you correctly stated) the most successful weekly newspaper in the country, especially revenue-wise!

  138. Randy Paul Says:

    Someday Rick Barrs will be looking for a job somewhere. I believe those of us who love fine journalism owe a service to the same by doing everything possible to keep this blog around so that prospective employers can google Barrs’ name and fine his comments here.

  139. Zuma Dogg Says:

    it was an open secret that it was Stewart who actually wrote most of Dogg’s otherwise illegible piece ( A rapper/ranter, Mr. Dogg had once boasted: “I don’t like to read”). And no matter that this was the same Mr. Dogg who was an eccentric gadfly who repeatedly disrupted local agency meetings for which he was now being paid to report on. The Weekly was giving press credentials to clowns who disrupted the meetings they were to “report” on.

    dude. what kind of non-factual journalist are you? “It was Stewart who actually wrote most of Dogg’s (piece). I hope you are not saying, yourself, that Stewart wrote most of my stuff, or you may be sued for libel.


  140. Zuma Dogg Says:

    AND OH YEAH…I DID NOT COVER CITY COUNCIL, YOU CLOWN. I covered SCAG and the Grand Ave Project??? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Jill was specific in not allowing me to cover city council. WHAT ELSE DO YOU GET WRONG???

  141. jim hitchcock Says:

    “I’ve heard that this was actually a trade and Bill Kristol will be replacing Bono in U2.”

    That’s blasphemy, Reg, and I’m not even a fan of U2 :)

  142. jim hitchcock Says:

    …kind of like John Ashcroft replacing Bruce Springsteen.

  143. Colin Mitchell Says:

    Really enjoying this slugfest, folks. And just to support Marc’s claim of the absolute idiocy of these Phoenix based owners of the LA Weekly – just heard this news here:

    The Weekly has eviscerated the position of Theatre Editor at the paper. A city that does some 2000 theatre productions a year. It was deemed “extravagant”.

    Besides the fact that Steven Leigh Morris is a hell of a theatre advocate, writer and just plain great guy – this is pathetic! And obviously hitting home with me.

    It’s kinda like saying a Park Ranger is extravagant for the Redwood National Forest.

    The LA Weekly now deserves to die. Let it rot. Good riddance. Clear the way for somebody who gets it.

    Hey, Barrs, not really sure who the hell you are or if you’re actually still associated with the daily business of the Weekly – but if you are would you kindly address the idiocy of such a move?

    Next you’ll be dropping the Film Editor.


  144. Marc Cooper » Blog Archive » Update: L.A. Weekly Kill-Off Continues Says:

    [...] The Best of the Nation « L.A. Weekly: The Autopsy Report [...]

  145. Gustavo Arellano Says:

    Josh and Shawnee: Gracias for the kind words. I’m not myopic at all, though. In regards to the story of LA Weekly, let’s just say I’ll keep my opinion to myself—not because I’m forced to, but because it would mean me delving into personal stuff I’m not sure I can discuss (and not involving me, btw). I will state for the record, however, that newspapers cannot succeed through cutting, and anyone who thinks otherwise is loco.

    Josh: Go ahead and think the Weekly went awry once Will left; Scott, Nick, and I—the guys who stayed—will just continue to do what has always given the Weekly its well-won reputation: report the hell out of stories. And the day that can’t happen…

  146. Marc Cooper Says:

    Wonderful have Zuma Dogg live and in person barking away. Let’s label him Exhibit 2a (1a already occupied by Rick Barrs) of the gutter level of journalism we are dissecting here.

    I also feel compelled to answer my friend Gustavo Arellano, without doubt one of the most gited writers in the whole New Times network (he predates the takeover of his paper, of course).

    Gustavo, it pains me to say that commenter Shawnee might be right. Off the two options he offers to explain your posting, I’m going with benevolent myopia.

    The OC Weekly may indeed be better surviving the cuts of New Times because, if I am not incorrect, the entire staff of OC is about 10 or 12 people. right? Always has been small and has always done a great job on such scant resources.

    This is also the reason why OC Weekly might be better surviving the rest of ther papers as it seems obvious that the Lacey operation wishes to squeeze ALL of its papers down to the size of 12 paid staff, give or take a few. That’s fibe if you started out with 15. It’s not so god when you started out with 35, 50 or 60, is it?

    I understand the restraints you are under and do not expect you to commit suicidal acts in print. But I think this is poor timing to be offering even an implicit defense for the mgmt of the papers. Especially on a day like today when the LA Weekly’s cultural staff has been bumped off.

    Also, the forced departure of Will Swaim as editor/publisher of OC Weekly shortly after New Times took over deserves more than a passing line. There’s a reason a lot of the staff followed him out the door. As you agree, he was a great editor and had built that paper from nothing into something with no resources from either VVM or NT. The destruction of the paper began with his deeparture. Granted, your news operation still remains in place. And probably will, so long as it costs no significant money and there is no editor in place to stand up to any of the other hare-brained decisions made by the New Times. Keep up the good work, as always.

  147. Sergio Says:

    No theater editor?

    The Weeklly ( until I stopped reading it last year) INTRODUCED me to theater.


  148. Gustavo Arellano Says:

    Marc: Gracias, as always, for the praise. I’m not offering any defense other than that of my OC Weekly colleagues, specifically those of us who predate the merger. Our paper isn’t “destroyed”—smaller, yes, but still doing great work. As I stated before, I’ll respectfully decline to comment on LA Weekly for personal reasons. As for the matter of my previous OC Weekly colleagues leaving…I also respectfully decline to comment for personal reasons. You’ll have to wait for my confessions someday :-)

    Finally, like I stated before: anyone who thinks they can make a newspaper succeed by cutting staff is loco.

  149. Tuesday Says:

    Alvin writes:
    “I do think the road map for journalism with integrity has a future as the core product in a business model.

    Non-profit publishing.

    Just like NPR and Public TV, it is time in major markets for publishing to evolve with a new model – supported by “members” and endowed by benefactors and grants.”

    This sounds very prescient. It is terribly, terribly sad. I feel like we’re like early-20th-century lovers of vaudeville living through the introduction of the TV and radio. Vaudeville was for the masses, and today, going to the theater tends to be an expensive hobby.

    The benefits of alt-weeklies for the masses will be missed. But the bottom line is that the masses won’t miss it. Even if it was well-written or well-edited.

    High-quality journalism and newspapers will survive, but thanks to the MASSIVE (and I mean massive) fixed costs of production, they may become fetishisized, expensive products indulged in by a hardcore few.


  150. PattyK Says:

    Marc thanks for the insightful autopsy. I wanted to reminisce about some positives that took place during my time at the L. A. Weekly from 1997 – 2003. My tenure as HR Manager and, later, as a sales rep, allowed me to view the organization from inside and outside of management.

    Pam Klein thank you for giving the only nod on these posts to the hard working sales reps. Let’s not forget how we all got paid.

    Misogynistic management? Hardly. During my time at LAW the management was largely made up of incredible women. Sue Horton, Judy Jablonski, Beth Sestonovich, the effervescent Kelly Mayfield and my mentor Lynne Foland ran a joyous ship.

    Employees would show up in our office dead broke. HR thought nothing of rushing to cut an employee an advance on their paycheck. We wanted to sustain you and keep you a part of the hum and flow in your personal lives and at LAW.

    Management was also committed to promoting from within. If you showed tenacity and talent, we noticed. More often than not, we promoted interns to writers, sales assistants to sales reps and part-time parking valets to staff employees.

    What company would do these things today?

  151. Pamela Klein Says:

    No theater editor, and they cut the film section, too. Ella Taylor was let go today. Steven was there for 20 years, and Ella for nearly that long. Both people cared, and served the city and the communities from which they drew their craft. Morris writes plays, and Taylor has a doctorate in film studies. I wonder what the New Times organization thinks a cultural newspaper is picked up for?

  152. Anna Churchill Says:

    I always thought their arts criticism dreadful, predictable, trying to hard to be cool, left and at the end of the day were, mostly, full of crap and lacked any insight into art at all.

    It was their big cover stories and coverage of big local interest stories that were fantastic.

  153. Anna Churchill Says:

    If I recall correctly, I think Ella Taylor the one who set my teeth on edge.

  154. Pamela Klein Says:

    Believe it or not, the Calendar blurbs were what most people were after. They wanted the Picks of the Week. They wanted to know where to go on Friday nights. Taylor and Morris made sure that films and plays were covered, they organized such events as the Theater Awards, reported on film festivals, made space for local efforts so that the arts in L.A. would not go unnoticed, and even if you did not like their criticism, they knew about their industries and publicized them. It is a shame what has happened. Maybe they’ll put celebrites on the cover, and run a few snipes. That would certainly be a lot cheaper, and much more in line with the New Times.

  155. MAGPIE - Arthur Magazine Blog » The Decline and Fall of American Journalism Part 213: LA Weekly Autopsy Report Says:

    [...] and managed to weather several years under the noxious heel of New Times management. He finally spilled all the beans on his blog just the other day. Even if you’re not from Los Angeles it’s a worthwhile read when it [...]

  156. Rob Grocholski Says:

    …looping back up to reg @ 1:50 pm…

    Agreed ’bout this being one of the best posts & threads…
    Small example:

    One could change all the nouns from editor, writer, reporter, etal., and use instead riveter, welder, dispatcher (and the list would go on…) And the story is still going to be true.

    A lot of people could recognize this piece.
    A lot.

  157. TheatreQueen Says:

    Marc Cooper God Bless You, I understand now.

    The last LA Weekly I picked up was on Election Day…. I picked it up for the endorsements.

    I’ve been reading LAW since it started (I was punk then and so was the mag) and I will miss it. I’m 50 now and finding out that Stephen Leigh Morris is fired is like a shot in the heart; life is over.
    Theater, which is my life, always seemed central to LA culture to me, and I got that impression because of the LA Weekly. There were a few things that mattered in life: Theatre, Music, Movies, Art, Food, Politics, Life in Hell and Ernie Pooks Comique, and The LA Weekly was where you went to find them.

    I was proud to be an Angeleno then and watch so many things start in my city and spread throughout the world (like punk, which was OURS fuck the brits, and the Simpsons, and Melrose and new wave, sort of). There was so much energy in the city then.

    This whole thread has been the perfect wake for my LAWeekly. What a drama: The villains have shown up drunk (Barrs) and Crazy (the Dogg) and the heroes have cried and truth has been told. Rest in peace, LA Culture.

    But don’t let it go unavenged. Journalists! Do what you do best! Bring Down Mike Lacey!

  158. Juan Valdez Says:

    Hey Wrigglesby,

    Hellooooo Mary Cummins.

  159. Michael Turmon Says:

    @Churchill –

    Actually the movie reviews have been excellent for years now. Besides Ella T., Manohla Dargis wrote deep and thoughtful reviews before moving to LAT and then NYT. There was a lot of good info in the music reviews and interviews as well. I never really had sympathy for the LAW visual arts coverage but it’s a matter of taste (that person was pushed out also).

  160. Tricia Says:

    Hey there, Village Voice survivor here.

    Couple of things. New Times failed in the bigger cities for several reasons.

    1. They tried to impose the one-size-fits-all formula to every city without taking into consideration what that city actually wanted and needed. As others have pointed out here, where there is no competition they do well; and OC Weekly fares better because it’s just outside of the major cities, and it’s pretty conservative leaning–like not totally right-wing wacko–but leans that way and that’s exactly who loves NTimes papers. Cities like Denver and Phoenix take to their outlook; bigger cities like San Francisco, Seattle (where they are getting their asses beaten) do not, and it’s totally clear that they didn’t work in NY or LA.

    2. The New Times does not get and does not care about the Internet. While I believe Bill Jensen actually does care and get the internet, I believe his hands are tied in terms of how much one person can do. When they took over the Voice, several of our IT and Web people quit, and most were never replaced. At one point, we had three people putting up the entire fucking Village Voice. THREE FUCKING PEOPLE. This is the same year, 2006 to 2007, when New York magazine was beefing up its website and they had hired 40 people for the website alone. The difference couldn’t be more clear. When the New Times was busy hiring staff writers (we had 10!!) to stuff the paper with extraneously long feature articles (it was fun to write a few, but still), they should have been putting all those people to work on the web. And they didn’t even make us blog. In 2006! Seriously! Dumb.

    Their editorial “vision” (ixnay–FORMULA) was to go LONG LONG LONG, which they will tell you was about ‘real’ journalism, in-depth reporter, when in fact, it was hooey: it’s a way to fill the paper up without paying too many people. And it’s the opposite direction the rest of the world is moving. Most of the world wants short, pithy pieces, with personality in them. You know, that whole Internet Blogging Thing. (See above).

    3. Just to bring home the point of whether or not this is a matter of the “economy” killing the Voice or the New Times’ idiotic editorial choices and bad management killing the Voice, here’s a pretty lengthy, but probably incomplete list of people they’ve canned (and who’s writing no longer appears in the paper because of the firings and changes in editorial direction) in no particular order (note most of these people were hired before they took over–a few were hired after, proving that they don’t even know what they want when they actually pick the person themselves:

    Nat Hentoff, Chuck Eddy, Robert Christgau, Lynn Yaeger, Dennis Lim, Ed Park, Michael Atkinson, Jim Ridgeway, Toni Schlesinger, Jorge Morales, Nathan Lee, Elizabeth Zimmer, Deborah Jowitt, Doug Simmons, Adamma Ince (quit), Jennifer Gonnerman (left after not getting a staff position), Laura Conaway, Kristin Lombardi, Jarrett Murphy, Sean Gardiner, Chris Thompson, Jessica Winter, Chloe Hilliard, Maria Luisa Tucker, Staci Schwartz (photo ed), Joy Press, (left), Ming Uong, LD Beghtol, Tina Zimmer (art and photo), and me, Tricia Romano.

    To anyone with brains, this is a formidable list of incredible reporters, writers, critics, editors. There was certainly some room for slicing down the size of the staff: you could have argued we had too many arts editors, that we didn’t need as many editors or news reporters as we had; you could have argued that some columns or writers weren’t as strong as you’d like and maybe you’d like to mix it up a bit, but for the most part, if I was a new owner and I had bought something that was worth a certain amount of money, because, you know, WE MADE IT WORTH THAT MONEY, i’d keep the people who were the most valuable to the audience and who were most connected to the brand.

    As soon as they cut some really big players–Ridgeway especially, Schanberg, Schlesinger, Christgau-there was a huge drop in web traffic. As soon as they lost our web dude, Nathan Deuel who went on to rolling stone, and didn’t replace someone who know how to move the traffic on the website, you saw the numbers drop.

    It’s not the economy that is killing either of these papers. It’s the people who own it, plain and simple.

    P.s. I am not bitter that I don’t work there anymore, or that I was laid off for matters of taste. I am bitter because they tore apart my other family, a group of people I really miss and love and learned a lot from. I would have probably stayed there forever, I loved it that much.

    “You don’t get rid of good people just to save money. They’re too hard to find. You don’t discourage them. You want a lively newsroom, some action. Sturm. Drang. That place seemed dead.”–Mike Lacey.

  161. DarkWell Says:

    The losses are tragic certainly. New Times is absolutely screwing up big time letting so many talented journalists and critics go. But the people who are left at BOTH the LAWeekly and OCWeekly–the few remaining staff writers, the copy editors, the calendar listings guys, the web editors, the designers, the guys who sell the ads that generate the cash–are all fantastic at what they do. What, would you have them quit their jobs in protest? In this economy? Please. Marc had other jobs to fall back on, but not everybody is so lucky. Instead of hating, you should stand in solidarity with the hardworking people who are left at these places, who continue to work their asses off to at least try to produce quality product in the face of the New Times upper management travesty.

    I agree with Gustavo. The ones still on the masthead are doing great work. Keep it up as long as you can.

    And bunkerbuster is also right: where the hell were all the brainiacs who might have done something to steer these papers right earlier on? The ones who now have perfect 20-20 vision hindsight posting on this blog? If you think you can do better than New Times, and almost everyone on this thread does, go rustle up some venture capital and start your own paper. Then hire every genius that got fired.

  162. Bart Says:

    Why do people keep mentioning how long someone has been at the job? Who cares if Ella Taylor was there 19 years? Does anyone expect lifetime employment? If so, get a teaching job or join the church. Taylor was okay, but hardly notable.

  163. Josh Says:

    So much hate. What does any of this have to do with The Arts?

  164. Rebel Girl Says:

    Where’s Ginger Varney these days?

  165. The Alliterates » End Times Says:

    [...] continues its painful diminution into irrelevancy, guided by the same people who are destroying the LA Weekly. Of the newsprint media, the Stranger, of all people, seems to be the strongest, yet that is [...]

  166. rebecca Says:

    Tricia — Romano? — OC Weekly was certainly NOT right-leaning. Every damn person in there bordered on socialist if they weren’t actively so. You had an entire staff of people wallowing in regret for their Nader votes for the past eight years.
    It was a fun place to work.

    And while I’m commenting, I’m the scare-quote “‘prize’ editor” Sigman brought in to fuck up CityBeat, and Dennis, I have absolutely no idea what I ever did to you that has you still bitching nine months later (at least you’re no longer going into Wikipedia every day to erase my name as CB’s editor, but probably only because I’m no longer there). I didn’t know Kamren also acted a publicist; when I found out, she no longer wrote for me. As for the other “substandard” pieces I ran, yes, they needed a lot of work. So I edited them. Every one of those pieces was then bought by multiple AWN papers that thought they were actually pretty good. Fuck, I don’t know why I’m defending myself so late in the thread. I’ll go with “ego.”

    Thanks for the nice, meaty post, Marc. It’s fun to have everybody spewing from every direction. Especially the good mr. rick barrs!

  167. Byrne's not a class act Says:

    Hey Byrne, I’d never heard of you, or Marc Cooper, until somebody told me how you smeared poor, dead Marnye Oppenheim. For the record, Byrne, Marnye died of a seizure brought on by drugs she was taking to control her horrible Crohn’s disease. SHE DIED IN HER OWN APARTMENT in Phoenix while staying up late working on her Bite-Me column. Those of us who knew her will never get over it. She was just 32. Are you a journalist? All you would have had to is look up the coroner’s report.

  168. Marc Cooper Says:

    These might be final comments on this thread. To the dunderhead above, please note that I wrote nothing and have no opinion on the death of Marnye, so ur yelling at the wrong guy. While we’re on the subject of poor taste, I believe it was Mad Man Barrs who hinted that he would be pleased if I died of a stroke. Nice.

    Also for the record: here’s another reason I quit his NTLA. I worked for months on a MAJOR investigative story that exposed a fraudulent anti-pollution scheme by local smog agency. The main source was an heroic agency inspector for whom we sought and achieved federal whistle blower status. The story turned into, modestly stated, a great series that blew the lid off the mgmt of the agency.

    Rick Barr’s contribution? After the series was completed, and I must say it was executed with absolute seriousness and meticulousness on my part, based on exhaustive research and undercover investigation inside the agency program, Barrs wrote one of his sophomoric, idiotic rants know as the The Finger column. In it he openly called for the assasination (a bullet between the eyes was his exact phrase) for the CEO of the agency I had exposed. He took all my hard earned publish work, the integrity of the source involved, the integrity of his own friggin paper, and pissed it away in one moronic statement. He’s a world class screw up and was born to be the towel boy in a locker room.

    I also want to express exrteme DISGUST with especially the anonymous commenters who write off the significance and the trauma involved in the firing of these writers and editors. We even have a few commenters who suggest we focus more on the survivors. Are you out of your mind? Some of those survivors are friends of mine, a few of them, like Gustavo Arellano are also extremely talented. But you will excuse me if the for the moment I focus more sympathy and attention on those who have been terminated.

    Yes, in my case, I was fortunate because I have many other employers and sources of revenue. But most of those fired DO NOT. How long someone does work in a place as a writer is also VERY important. For one, it suggests their age. And two, it suggests the degree upon which they have become dependent on their employer because, dummies, that’s the way capitalism works. Without naming names, among those fired in the past years and weeks are people in the mid 50′s, with teenage children, some in college, who now find themselves with no income, no benefits, and very few markets left available in the field.

    So yes, turdblossom, let’s blame them for not being smart enough to fend off a 1/2 billion corporation that took over their paper and fired them. Clearly their fault for not being, as one dumbkopf above puts its, “brainiacs.” My God, that is stomach-turning.

    Just so you know, there are many many many people inside of the VVM/NT sausage machine who have fought many many battles before during and after the merger to improve the papers and their mgmt. But guess what? They don’t own those papers. Those of you make these dastardly suggestions are perfectly in tune with the knuckle draggers who blame the idiocy and bankruptcy of American auto industry on line workers who have the audacity to be in a union, have health care for their kids, and who might actually clear a whopping $50k a year.

    There’s a paypal button on my site. Anyone who gives a hoot, make a dination and append an LA Weekly note on it and I will make sure the money goes to those who most need it in the immediate weeks (not me fortunately). That will be my decision alone and you will have to trust me.

    Put up or shut up.

  169. Pamela Klein Says:

    What a beautiful message, Marc. It would be nice to keep on going, because, as it clearly shows, there is a great need for lots of healing. Nobody mediocre works at a major alternative newspaper for 20 years. One lasts 20 years because s/he is very good. To be throw out at near 60 is a frightening prospect. I am in mourning still, and I left the paper eight years ago. The problem is, when you work for the alternative press, the freedom is incredible. And that never leaves you, no matter where you roam. Thank you for allowing all of us, collectively, to express our sorrow. Oh, some of us expressed our rage, too. And our nastiness, and our idiocy, and our disgust and hopelessness…Well, there is karma, you know.

  170. Bart Says:

    “Nobody mediocre works at a major alternative newspaper for 20 years.”

    Pull the other one. If that’s the story that makes you feel better, keep telling it.

  171. JohnMecklin Says:

    Hey, at least Byrne pushed Barrs off the blog! And, I can testify that Byrne is a fine reporter, far too fine to have been confined by New Times mediocrity and sexism. Way to go, Peter!

  172. Tricia Says:

    @Rebecca, i didn’t mean to say that the OC weekly wasn’t righty, but that i think the area it services is–and i think that not having a lot of distractions/competish in that city helps make it successful. New Times can’t compete. that’s the whole problem. they can’t actually be relevant in competitive markets.

  173. Marc Cooper » Blog Archive » Final Wrap-Up on L.A. Weekly Says:

    [...] intended the “autopsy” on the L.A. Weekly I published  last week to be a modest cathartic and insider report of interest [...]

  174. DG Says:

    Hey, I got laid off by the independent newspaper with a heart after five years of service and all I got in terms of settlement was a lousy two weeks pay (from a salary that was well below typical entry-level pay in my neck of the woods). My point is that just because VVM sucks, which it does, doesn’t mean that all the other alt weeklies aren’t doing the same thing. They don’t have investigative reporters anymore because they can’t afford to keep people like that on staff. And they’re more inclined to cover mainstream consumer culture, because that’s what’s going to get a beer ad in their pages. It’s sad.

  175. frank Says:


    You owe Zuma Dogg an apology, Zuma is hardly a replacement reporter for anybody fired at the L.A. Weekly. He only wrote one article/story for the L.A. Weekly, in which he tries to expose how our L.A. city council is being bought by rich developers, which is accurate.

    Zuma is just a community activist who attends city council meeting and tries to keep watch on the real crooks on the L.A. city council.

    Your use of Zuma Dogg was not accurate and served no purpose other than to use him aas example to further your opinion.

    At no time has Zuma represented himself as an employee or writer for the L.A. Weekly and you are wrong to try and portray him as such.

  176. Michael "Mayor Sam" Higby Says:

    Frank, agreed.

    I spoke several times with Zuma Dogg while he was writing the piece for the Weekly and know that Stewart did not re-write the piece.

    Unfortunately Marc has fallen into this myopic view of the left in LA that “progressive” government in the City can not be corrupt; that any one charges otherwise is a facist, loon or exhibiting some other defect (so much for progressive “diversity, love, peace and happiness).

    In an environment where print publications are now in “dinosaur territory” the Weekly is working hard to re-invent itself. If that strategy will work one can not guarantee. At the same time however, during this critical and remarkable period, the Weekly under Stewart et al is stepping up to fill a hole left by the Times and now even the previously reliable Daily News to cover what’s actually happening on the third and fourth floors of City Hall, which despite what folks like Cooper, Kevin Roderick and other “writers” in this town feel, has reached an urgent situation that the people need to quite frankly wake up and smell the coffee.

    One can get an overload of the latest Obama news in any newspaper, thousands of blogs and 24 hours a day from CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. There is hardly anywhere to go to get the information about the government that has the most impact on our daily lives and thank the sweet baby that the LA Weekly is making a yeoman effort.

    Perhaps Bitterman Cooper should take Lacey’s advice. His rants have grown old and tired over the decades he’s been peddling them. Or go start your own damn newspaper Cooper. I am sure you can find sufficient advertisers to support 15,000 word essays on Obama and the latest review of the Vagina Monologues.

  177. Byrne's not a class act Says:

    So let me get this straight… I’,m a “dunderhead” because I point out that Peter Byrne was either sadly mistaken or a liar when he claimed my friend Marnie Openheim “killed herself” of what he suggests was an illegal drug overdose at her boyfriend’s apartment. That just didn’t happen!

    Wonder if any legal action could be taken against you for publishing such an untruth?

    Marnye was full of life, and would have never killed herself. What an untrue cheap shot to say so. Byrne should be ashamed of himself, and so should you, to speak so wrongly about one of the sweetest people there was.

    From what I’m reading on this blog, Mr. Cooper, you suffer from the the same inability to get it right as Mr. Byrne. Or to even understand what points are being made by critics here. You just read into what’s written and twist it around. Maybe that’s why you are no longer employed as a reporter? Just saying.

  178. MikeLacey Says:

    God. I hate myself. Please forgive me. Everyone.

  179. DTs Says:

    To Michael Higby:

    Your post needs no response, Mayor Sam. Your blog — which often has featured Zuma Dogg — speaks for itself,. On several occasions I’ve mused about doing a public dissection of your laughable view of the City of L.A. But reason has always prevailed. No one knows you, those who do care very little and why give you free PR? Keep it up. The Audience Is Listening (to other things).

  180. Marc Cooper Says:

    I think DTs has got it just abour right when it comes to the absurd Michael Higby. His Mayor sam site made for some vaguely amusing reading back when nobody knew who ran the site… know that we know, the few of us who even know what I’m talking about, the less we care.

    As to the chap above who is also upset over Peter Byrne’s post, I suppose there’s an easy way to find out if it is legally actionable. I wonder if he thinks the same of Rick Barr’s column in which he calls for the asassination of the public official running the local smog agency.

  181. Patrick Corcoran Says:

    As a survivor of the New Times raid on the L.A. Reader in its initial quixotic run on the Weekly, I’d like to make a couple of points on New Times’ management style.

    At the Reader, after a profanity-laced meeting with the editorial staff in which Mike Lacey informed the Reader editorial staff of everything they were doing wrong, New Times fired everybody, but the advertising staff, Andy Klein and me.

    After securing the existing advertising accounts, the advertising staff was let go.

    When I came aboard New Times, the theater listings were being handled by a temp, who included community theater and college productions and whoever was editing them cut off the listings to save space at whatever point they ran out of space – say at “R” rather than list the professional or Equity-waiver productions and cut out the non-pro listings.

    After eight months, I was let go to save the $350 a week expense of my work and the theater section was handled by a staff person who took it on in addition to whatever other duties they had.

    New Times’ ethos is to be money conscious regardless of its effect on the quality of the product.

    It’s political reporting was to emphasize corruption and malfeasance – a worthy goal, except when tied, as in every one of Jill Stewart’s screeds, to blaming the political philosophy or allegiance of the miscreant to the wrongdoing. In New Times’ and Stewart’s world, liberalism – the dominant feature of L.A. politics – became synonymous with corruption.

    New Times creed is snark above thought, budget above quality, and libertarianism above all else.

  182. Rich Kane Says:

    As someone who got laid off just two weeks ago from OC Weekly — for the second time! — I could say TONS here.

    About my nearly five-year-long (1988-1992) stint as an unpaid LA Weekly intern/fact-checker.

    About my time with OC Weekly from its 1995 startup to my seven years there as the paper’s music editor.

    About my era as editor of Southland pub and LACB sister paper IE Weekly.

    About my return to OCW as its Managing Editor, which was great fun while it lasted — I should be talking endless smack on VVM, I suppose, but, sorry kids, I’d totally work for them again.

    But for now, all I really want to say is: Pam Klein! E-mail me at

  183. R.I.P. to the L.A. Weekly « El Cuzcatleco Says:

    [...] former writer for the LA WEEKLY, goes down fighting with an insightful, passionate, and unfiltered critique on the demise of (what use to be) one of the best weeklies in the [...]

  184. Finger Reverser Says:

    I’m a local journalist (and still employed to boot) and I remember Rick Barrs very well from those LA Press parties. Such a douche bag. Him calling anyone full of shit is like a giant bag of Bandini manure calling a chocolate eclair full of shit. Hey, Finger, tell us the real story of how New Times LA disappeared, you incompetent fuck face.

    I remember his colleague, Tony Ortega, being a class act and he’s very deserving of his rise to the top. Great journalist, great man. But Barrs and his LA Examiner cronies (yeah, that went far, didn’t it?), Los Angeles is soooooo lucky to be rid of him. Just read the comments he posted here and you get the idea.

    Here’s one more Finger with a capital “F” from an L.A. journalist who outlasted you! Stay the hell out of our town and keep your nose out of our business, asshole.

  185. Michael "Mayor Sam" Higby Says:

    I should be honored in that the great Marc Cooper took a moment out of his time to call me “absurd.” I’m more amused however that this professional “journo” needs more editing than I ever thought I needed. For Christ sake Cooper get a spell check extension for your browser.

    I first met Cooper 25 years ago at a “teach-in” on El Salvador with the lovable but now I know so very wrong Farrell Broslawsky at Valley College. I bought into that left-wing paranoia back then; but I had an excuse, I was young and stupid.

    If Cooper would take a moment to get his head out of his elite ass perhaps he could take a deep view of the activity of the current local administration which is a kleptocracy and bed of corruption deeper than that even of Duarte in El Salvador. If he indeed did that he might see how this city is fucking the very poor and working class people he claims to “support.”

  186. Eric Mankin Says:

    As someone who was fired from the Weekly more than 20 years ago, a columnist, news editor (I edited Marc’s column for a while), I’m glad that I’ve had enough time to throw away the bad and remember the good. My late wife Margo Kaufman (also a Weekly columnist, who went on to the N.Y. Times) used to tell me when I was fuming about a long-past injustice: “Honey, you have to remember: he’s dead.”

    Without disagreeing with what Marc says about organizational mistakes and personalities, the bottom line with (particularly) free weeklies are not the editors, but the writers. You have, particularly in a city like Los Angeles, lots and lots of bright people with something to say, with energy and curiousity and a desire to see and change things. All editors have to do is not totally get in their way, and good things will happen. The Weekly’s recent recap issue, going back over their greatest hits stories of 2008 reminded me again of how just giving people a place to write and just a few bucks for what they do can work magic. As for the newsroom politics and personalities — it’s another version of what Henry Kissinger said about academic politics.

    But looking back, I do treasure my memories of the Weekly despite the pain. I loved the atmosphere in the building, I loved talking to the layout people (day jobs for band musicians); I knew i was a sucker giving the drug addicts $5 or $10 but I gave it. I went out evenings with the great spirit who sold club ads to see shows and thought I was the luckiest person in Los Angeles. I exchanged gossip with the ad sales staff, and thanked them for paying my salary; I admired the rockhammer, unflappable efficiency of the calendar staff, organizing thousands of events with primitive early computers.

    And I remember having the freedom to do fun, off-the-wall, worthwhile things. When the biggest science conference in science was in town, we got credentials to send everyone on the staff down to see what was new. Jay Levin contributed the headline: “What’s Up, Doc?” and we got mail about it for months.

    One name has never come up in all the words about the Weekly in dozens of places. Phil Tracy is best known — not well enough known, but best known — for his contributions to the exposé of Jim Jones, the New West article that drove Jones from San Francisco to Guyana. But he was also a Weekly editor, and a superb one. RIP, Phil.

  187. michael hoinski Says:

    working at the pre-new times weekly was one of the best experiences of my life. i was hired as assistant to publisher beth sestanovich; later, i was promoted to assistant to editor laurie ochoa. now, i’m a freelance writer in austin, texas, and i want to thank both beth and laurie for equipping me with the business and editorial skills needed to get to this point. they are both supremely intelligent, nurturing, bang-up people. i also want to thank joe donnelly and jeff anderson for their constant tutelage. they were like brothers, and i learned more from them about cutting my teeth as a real journalist than any school can teach. best of luck to everyone whom i worked with at the weekly. times are tough for journalism, but they will get better.

  188. dan Says:

    For all kinds of reasons, I’m not really interested in wading into the Weekly/New Times slapfight, but I did want to second the poster who took exception to Peter Byrne’s post about Marnye.

    Rick’s a friend of mine. Marnye was friend of mine. Rick can speak for himself. Marnye can’t. Peter, fuck you.

  189. Reader on the Sidelines Says:


    This is a service to the City. The City is boiling over with an administration and City Council that has nearly abandoned any pretense of public interest. Tragically, the autopsy of the LA Weekly highlights one part of the problem: the lack of local coverage enables fraud and corruption to florish. We NEED astute investigative writers who uncover the dark corners of our City.

    The only question now is: Who will post a similar post mortem for the Los Angeles Times?

  190. rick barrs Says:

    marc, one last comment (been busy working at a newspaper; don’t get to sit on my ass all day over at debutante u. diddling with my little blog; usc’s a hilarious place for a marxist like you to wind up, btw). i’m beginning to think it’s me you’re obsessed with, instead of stewart and lacey. go back and read what i said about you last thursday: it was that i’d still be working in the news business after you’d stroked or choked on one too many pink’s chilli dogs. (i wish you nothing but a long life of continued angst, but, marc, you need to de-stress and improve your diet!) my main point is, i know it’s hard for you and your fact-challenged followers, but try not to lie, try to get it right. anyhow, thanks for making me a household name again in l.a. — at least among beatniks.

  191. MikeLacey Says:

    Barrs, you’re fired.

    Asswipe. And you are OVER 50!!!

    Sitting in a bar all day playing with your lap top and thingy doing the cooper blog instead of hitting the pavement selling fucking ads like I pay you for! Make that “paid.”

    Go back to LA. They deserve you.

    Phoenix will be cleaner.

  192. Marc Cooper Says:

    The Mike Lacey post isn’t real. But I’ve checked the IP on the posting two blurbs up from here and it is indeed from New Times flagship editor Rick Barrs. I think I, for one, and astute readers owe him a debt of gratitude for his willingness to be so forthcoming about his own character and management style. NOBODY can make a stronger argument against New Times than Mr. Barrs himself who — apparently believes– that his struggling sister paper in L.A. is read by “beatniks.” Thanks again, Rick for so ably proving our point about the nature of those who sit atop your company.

    As I have told my colleagues recently fired from your chain: though it might mean some economic turbulence in the short run, EVERY DAY AWAY FROM THE NEW TIMES IS A GOOD DAY.

    And have a good day, Mr. Barrs.

  193. Ross Johnson Says:

    This shit is better than the Golden Globes! Where do I send my subscription check?

  194. rick barrs Says:

    you’re welcome, marc, but i said it’s the puckered-up posters on your little blog who’re beatniks. it’s the same 20 people (most all anon, of course). once again, you can’t get it straight. wow!

    i’m sure the weekly has hundreds of thousands of readers who don’t even know who you are.

  195. Pamela Klein Says:

    What I can’t understand is why all you men of letters have to call each other such crude names. Is this a macho thing? And beatniks? Where is this guy from?

  196. Bob Baker Says:

    (Written without forethought, since that seems to be the required style.)
    It IS better than the Globes. Everything masturbatorially fun and sinister about web-based “communication” is on display here. If I were going to hold a wake for what has happened to the “profession” or the “craft” of non-fiction writing I would hijack 100 readers at knifepoint (Jack Bauer, got a new gig for you), throw them in a room, force them to read every “Mean Girls”-styled entry and then present them with something 3,000 words long that would give them some sense of the truth of this long-festering juvenile smack down. Nobody leaves the room until Jack passes out the ballots and the hostages vote on which version pays deference to a certain intellectual quality (call it grownupidness) that can’t be found anywhere in the pay-back version of events. (Shit this is fun; the form lets you write as long as you want.) To those non-writer citizens who have made their way this far down the Smack-Down, this is the style of “citizen journalism” that will be yours to decipher, translate and pay for within a few short years.

  197. Marc Cooper Says:

    Hi Bob,

    An amusing comment, but I think it a dis-service to what you call citizen journalism/ I don’t think anyone here has those pretensions. I see this much more like a digital cracker barrel and in the end what’s so bad anyway about letting people say what they are really thinking? Reading this is purely voluntary.

    Also, plse be reminded that some of the more vituperative comments here dont come from “citizen journalists” but rather from the editor of the flagship paper of the largest chain of alt-weeklies in the country.

    Anyway, a merit badge for reading this deep (or maybe you started from the bottom up?).

  198. George W. Bush Says:

    You are hired! And bring the gal, we need some right-thinking femme color around here.

    –ML, Head Toad

    Dear Mr. Lacey,

    I have been looking for a new gig, as you my have noticed. Karl got a sly slot with the Foxy one, and my pal Billy Kristol landed big time with the “liberal” NYT (ha, ha, ha). What I would really like to do, please hear me out, is something like the punch of Savage Love mixed with the fine literary quality of Cooper’s blog (which we ALL read now). I realize my credentials are not very “alternative,” but, get real, neither are yours. What say?

    Can you hire my girl friend, too? (She used to have a supertanker named after her!)


  199. Toodle Lou Says:

    I’m the real Rick Barrs. Can someone find a crowbar to pry me off of Mike Lacey’s lap? I’m stuck and my sphincter is so sore! Oy!

  200. Jack Cheevers Says:

    Peter Bryne, your comments on Rick Barrs and Marnye Oppenheim are truly contemptible.

  201. JackCheevers Says:

    Hi Mr. Lacey,

    Can I have my high-paying managing editor job back now? I promise not to turn 50 again.

    Satirically Yours,


    P.S. I am currently a flack for Medicare.

  202. The Daily Loper - January 13, 2008 | Medialoper Says:

    [...] L.A. Weekly: The Autopsy ReportNot for the sensitive — a no-holds barred look at the rise and fall of a Los Angeles institution. [...]

  203. Alan Mittelstaedt Says:

    I’ve borrowed a few million and talked Jay Levin out of his dwindling stash (money only) and am starting a new alt-weekly in Los Angeles. You’re all hired; except, of course, those too cowardly to use their real names. And rest assured, metal detectors will be installed at the entrance to the conference room, so our 3 p.m. Thursday editorial meetings can be as civil as they ever were at the L.A. Weekly. No bows and arrows or rubber bullets. And no spitting allowed either! It’ll be a free paper, but we’ll charge admission to our staff meetings.

  204. Top 40 Personality Traits To Use In Your Personal Ad To Attract Women Like Crazy! | Teen Dating Says:

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  205. Pamela Klein Says:

    Hey Alan, I’d gladly come back, for that. All this green and this sun and this blue sky, all this peace and jasmine-scented bliss notwithstanding. But can we change the time? I liked it better at 11, before lunch.

  206. Jack Cheevers Says:

    Actually, Peter, I’m a flack for Medicare and Medicaid, which finance medical care for more than 90 million children, low income and disabled people, and seniors across America.

    And your remarks are still contemptible.

  207. Former Fellow Alternative Hack Says:

    >>>next time we hear some slander from the top

    >>>I offer no defense against his slanderous charges.

    Marc. Slander is spoken; libel is written. I would think a journalist — especially a journalist who teaches aspiring journalists — would actually know the difference. Unbelievable. And no matter where one stands on this debate (I’m no fan of New Times’ management style), Peter Byrne is obviously a real contemptible piece of shit.

  208. Marney O Says:

    For Heaven’s sake! All this commotion! All this useless testosteronic posturing. Leave me out of this, please. Don’t you guys have something better to do with your professional lives than perseverate all day long on this ridiculous blog? Fini with it!

    Love & Peace,


  209. sfbgsux Says:

    San Francisco has it worse than LA – we have TWO shitty money losing rags infecting our city, while LA only has one. Hilarious to see them battle it out – they’re both ready to be flushed any moment now. the Guardian is a rag full of cheap shots and the weekly is boring!

  210. Marc Cooper » Blog Archive » Weekender: Weekly Weakly Stated Says:

    [...] chattering set off by my autopsy and post-mortems (plural) on L.A. Weekly continued to click away this past [...]

  211. Rebecca Says:

    Thank you Marc.
    Have read LAWeekly almost from day one, and have seen it’s gradual decline. To me, the turning point was subtle and seemed to begin with the influx of ads for lip and breast enhancements and the growing pages of ads for escorts and prostitutes. What that meant for me as a female, was no matter how insightful, interesting, or smart any of the female writers or subjects there was always this message between the articles that women are not to be taken seriously. Then the paper greatly devolved into shallow meaninglessness, ageism, etc. Once a while a good article but not enough to get me to read it regularly.

  212. Sonoran Alliance » How the New Times publishers destroyed alternative weeklies Says:

    [...] full article is here. [...]

  213. Does This Font Make Me Look Fat? » Blog Archive » Marc Cooper v. La Weekly Says:

    [...] A great insider view of the death of a newspaper. The fact that the most destructive force in the alt-weekly world has been something called “Village Voice Media” is wonderfully ironic. The nation’s first great modern weekly has morphed in middle age into a NY Times Media wannabe, and just like at the Times the l’il Sulzbergers at VVM don’t really know what the hell they’re doing. Weekly readers were informed, quite simply by its out-of-town owners, that they have been wrong, wrong, wrong for the last 30 years. They might think they like opinion and commentary and national news and sober and thorough investigative reporting, and all with a progressive tinge. But they’ve been wrong. Dead wrong. Instead, they want a smart-alecky, sophomoric, barely edited, thinned out, often reactionary sensationalist stew that displays little or no editorial rhyme nor reason. Yeah! That’s the formula. [...]

  214. Jim Carlile Says:

    Wow, after looking this over, I think Marc did everyone a favor, if only by giving Rick Barrs an opportunity to show us outsiders just what a jerk he is. Now I remember why I hated that other paper– what a schmuck. And imagine, a guy who calls himself an editor who doesn’t even believe in breaking his own work down into paragraphs, either. What, did he overdose on a little too much Michael Ventura back during those hated days of having to always read liberals and knee-jerk whatever it was?

    I think I can pull rank on most people here. I’ve been reading the ‘Weekly’ since about the first issue, but I tell you, the last straw for me was when they got rid of Alan Rich last year. Never made any sense and I never picked it up again. And Judith Lewis, she was so good and so nice, and always responded to her e-mail, too.

    About Jill Stewart, don’t forget that much of her popularity was the result of her constant TV appearances on Bill Maher’s program. And anyone else remember when she wrote that backpage LAT op-ed screed a few years ago, where she railed against the New Times/ Weekly buyoff deal, claiming that it was a dark day for independent journalism, etc. etc.?

    She made sense — until you realized that this was the same Jill Stewart who was not only a now unemployed columnist for ‘New Times’ (a fact undisclosed to LAT readers) but was also clearly flacking for its parent company– the same one that just a few years earlier had bought out both ‘The Reader’ and ‘The Village View’ just so it could close them down to eliminate the competition (!) How many millions did Lacey pay for those well-regarded papers? Stewart left that little tidbit out of her LAT piece and for good reason, too.

    Well, so good luck former Weekly staff, but is there a reason why no one here has mentioned Harold Meyerson? He was a big part of the paper’s appeal and a good example of what a nice showcase it was for so many years.

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  216. Soma Says:

    Slander is spoken; libel is written. I would think a journalist — especially a journalist who teaches aspiring journalists — would actually know the difference. Unbelievable. And no matter where one stands on this debate (I’m no fan of New Times’ management style), Peter Byrne is obviously a real contemptible piece of shit.

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  219. Marc Cooper » Blog Archive » L.A. Weekly Editor Gone Now Says:

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  220. Noobsters net » Blog Archive » Longtime Editor Departs L.A. Weekly Says:

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  221. Marc Cooper » Blog Archive » L.A. Weekly to Steve Mikulan: Take A Heikes! Says:

    [...] of this blog know that at the beginning of the year I wrote the autopsy on the eviscerated L.A. Weekly.  Some critics, however, thought I had prematurely performed last [...]

  222. In LA Meakly Says:

    I was actually doing a google search to try to locate an old friend, Judy Jablonski, when I ran across this fascinating read.

    I was the longest lasting original advertiser in the LA Weekly. We were in the Weekly from 1979 until i think my last ad was in 2005.

    Being a reluctant capitalist ( I sure as hell did not want to work paycheck to paycheck for someone else and I really did hate having employees), the weekly seemed to be the right place for me to put my advertising dollars.

    As the decayeds went by, my business model started to fade as did the relevance (business wise and personally) of the Weekly. After Judy left, I no longer felt any allegiance to the weekly, but I still would regularily pick up the paper.

    This year, I started to notice a paradigm shift in the weekly. Except for Jonathon Gold, the rag is unreadable. Even the movie reviews have gotten to the point of a wingnut review of Moore’s latest.

    But the problem that all you alumni overlook, is that the business model of all brick and mortar print enterprises are barely viable anymore.

    The only way to provide a real livelihood for journalists is going to find some way to make the internet actually pay off. It is going to be a challenge, but like it or not, it is the future.

    BTW, Marc, where on the internet may I currently find your writings?

    Behind Ventura’s Letters at 3a.m. , you were the next byline I used to look for every week

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  230. An LA Tragedy « Art in Deep Koma Says:

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