Talking New Media

L.A. Weekly discloses ownership group in post, now where is the staff?

Ownership group of 12 people, most with Orange County ties, finally is revealed after complaints from industry professionals following the sacking of most of the editorial staff

The mystery surrounding who exactly now owns the L.A. Weekly ended today when Brian Calle, who has fronted Semanal LLC posted snarkily (is that a word, if not, it is now) on the alt-weekly’s website some details.

“There is a lot of talk about who owns L.A. Weekly,” Calle wrote. “We’ve seen all the speculation. Is it a Russian oligarch? Is it some Trumpista? Is it Lord Voldemort?”

The L.A. Weekly group is made up of several investors including Brian Calle, formerly of the Southern California News Group; David Welch, an L.A.-based attorney; Kevin Xu, a philanthropist and investor; Steve Mehr, an attorney and investor; Paul Makarechian, a boutique hotel developer; Mike Mugel, a real estate redeveloper; and Andy Bequer, a Southern California–based investor. And Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, also plans to invest.

What the post really doesn’t answer is why the new owners wanted to remain anonymous, and why all but one staff writer was let go and not so far not replaced.

“For what it’s worth… I still work at LA Weekly,” Hillel Aron tweeted today. “We’re still putting out a paper next week. It’s super weird. Maybe something good will come out of this. Maybe not.”

Putting out a paper with a skeleton crew surely will be a difficult task.

Note: I started my newspaper career in Los Angeles working for Hearst, at a time when the L.A. Weekly was thriving due to its entertainment and classified advertising. It was a liberal voice in a fairly liberal town where the then-conservative LA Times dominated, and the libertarian Orange County Register dominated those southern suburbs. Calle’s background is as an opinion editor at the Register, which is now owned by MediaNews Group when Tribune Publishing (now tronc) failed in its efforts to acquire the paper due to the intervention of the Department of Justice (tronc owns both the Times and San Diego Union Tribune).