Mourning LA Weekly's Layoffs
Since 1978, LA Weekly, a Los Angeles based news media outlet, has been one of the city's premier news outlets. In October, LA Weekly was sold by its owner Voice Media Group to Semanal Media, an anonymous group of investors that did not reveal its owners until last week. This new group of owners have laid off all of their editors, publishers, and their writers - with the exception of one.
As a result of these layoffs, on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, former employees and spectators participated in what was stated to be a mock funeral of LA Weekly in front of its headquarters in Culver City, California. Orchestrated by Jeff Weiss, former writer and columnist of LA Weekly, the event's goal was to protest the decisions that were made by Semanal Media.
The protest started at 12:00 PM, as the crowd held signs with various slogans, including the message "Sell the Paper", which they chanted throughout the event, along with passing drivers honking their horns in support.
The protest also featured an open casket that held every single print edition the paper had distributed. Weiss, Max Bell, and various people who worked for the paper spoke against the recent transactions made by their new owners.
When asked about his initial thoughts on this transaction, Weiss said, "This was no one with newspaper experience, no one legitimately like an editor. Then they came in, they didn't give anyone a day of notice, when the publisher gets an email the night before everyone was gone. Every editor was gone, half of the advertising staff gone, publisher gone, just like decapitated."
Weiss continues to discuss his lack of confidence in the new owners of LA Weekly.
"They didn't have the decency to be in the building, I mean they didn't have the intelligence to do an exit interview. That's like ultimately how you know they're incompetent."
Fellow writer, Max Bell, who had been a freelancer in the music department for LA Weekly since 2012, broke down the process of putting the event together.
"The boycott LA Weekly campaign was largely organized by Katie Bain, Jeff Weiss, and Rebecca Haithcoat, and myself," Bell said. "Katie Bain was responsible for putting the GoFundMe page together that people generously donated to, so we were able to pay for the casket, for renting the casket."
One spectator, Mike Wellman, had the opportunity to speak out at the event. Wellman is the co-owner of the Comic Bug store in Culver City, and told us about his ties with LA Weekly.
"The reason I put my advertising dollars into the Weekly is because I read it every week, and the things it brought attention to both culturally and human interest, and you know some of the corruption that happens in the city."
Wellman added on about his thoughts on the protest. "I wish it was bigger, but this is a core group of people who care. The writers are here banding together, I'm here with them in solidarity."
When asked if this was the first step in returning LA Weekly to it's former glory, Weiss said, "We're going to boycott every one of their advertisers until there's no paper, until they sell it back with the community interest at heart, or the interest of journalism at heart, hopefully both. That's what matters."