LA Weekly Staff "Eviscerated" by Layoffs, Says Editor

LA Weekly Building - Screengrab - H 2017
Screengrab/Google Maps

"We were expecting there to be some pain with the sale of LA Weekly. But we weren't expecting the Red Wedding. That's how deep the cuts are," posted editor Mara Shalhoup.

LA Weekly editor Mara Shalhoup on Wednesday afternoon posted a series of 12 tweets that spelled out one shocking announcement: Nine of 13 editorial staffers had been laid off at the publication, "including all five editors and all but one staff writer."

Some of those are managing editors are Drew Tewksbury, music editor Andy Hermann, arts and culture editor Gwynedd Stuart and food editor Katherine Spiers.

The decimation of the LA Weekly staff — described by Shalhoup as a "Red Wedding"-style event, referencing Game of Thrones' iconic massacre scene from Season 3, Episode 9 titled “The Rains of Castamere" — comes more than a month after the alternative city paper had been sold to a mysterious buyer. The Los Angeles Times named the buyer as Semanal Media, a new entity created for the purpose of this transaction.

In a blog post on Friday by Brian Calle revealed the identity of the new owners. "Rumors are rampant and the assumption is that someone bought the Weekly for some nefarious reason. But that’s not the case," he wrote. "Our new ownership team is a patchwork of people who care about Los Angeles, care about the community and want to once again see an incredibly relevant, thriving L.A. Weekly with edge and grit that becomes the cultural center of the city."

Those investors include: 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. (Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, also plans to invest, the article stated.)

Back to the layoffs. "We were expecting there to be some pain with the sale of LA Weekly," Shalhoup posted. "But we weren't expecting the Red Wedding. That's how deep the cuts are." 

The editor then went on to compliment her staff one by one, elevating the praise above and beyond well-placed kind words to promote their work in an effort to shine a spotlight on those journalists who are now in need of new jobs. 

"But first let me say what an incredible honor it has been to work at this legendary place, with this dream team of journalists," she wrote, before noting their 21 nominations at Sunday night's L.A. Press Club Southern California Journalism Awards. "Let me now talk about how hard-working these journalists are, how creative, how devoted, how YOU SHOULD HIRE THEM NOW."

After highlighting their work, Shalhoup ended her series of posts with a note of gratitude.

"Thank you, all of you at LA Weekly, for kicking so much ass. I was hoping for a less heartbreaking ending, but I'm glad we all got to tell the story of this city together," tweeted Shalhoup, who, according to her Twitter bio, had previously served as editor of Chicago Reader and Creative Loafing Atlanta and is the author of BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family.

The rest of her tweets can be seen below. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Shalhoup for additional comment. 

Dec. 1, 12:19 p.m.: Updated to include news of LA Weekly's new ownership.