For The Record: Setting Things Straight Regarding Neon Tommy Report On LA Weekly
Neon Tommy, the publication of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, this week takes a look at the Weekly
and some of the changes that have taken place at the paper in recent
months, including the hiring of Editor-in-Chief Drex Heikes, a
well-respected journalist who has edited the Los Angeles Times Magazine and more recently oversaw a Pulitzer Prize-winning series at the Las Vegas Sun.
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Let's get this out of the way first. As the Tommy admits, it got a few things wrong: It stated
that the Weekly's
editorial staff consists of six people -- three editors and three staff
writers. It left out music editor Randall Roberts, web editor Erin
Broadley, food blog editor Amy Scattergood, and copy editors Karre
Jacobs and Mel Yiasemide. Editorial creative director Darrick Rainey,
assistant art director Jason Jones and designer Mitch Handsone were
also left out of the editorial head count. There are seven full-time
print and web staff writers: Gendy Alimurung, Patrick Range McDonald,
Libby Molyneaux, Christine Pelisek, Scott Foundas and Liz Ohanesian,
who is also the online editorial assistant. On the
part-time/regular-freelance tip there's critic at large Steven Leigh
Morris, assistant listings editors Siran Babayan, Falling James and
Derek Thomas, as well as columnists Nikki Finke, Jonathan Gold and Lina
Lecaro. Neon Tommy also said the news blogger is an editor. We can
assure you, he is not.
Tommy gives some ink to the notion espoused by the Weekly's critics
-- mostly former employees -- that the paper has seen better days and
is need of rescuing or, in the parlance of the Neon ones, that it needs
saving -- a "Herculean task."
We'll let you decide. We'd argue that the truth is that the Weekly,
like pretty much every other paper on the planet, has seen the same
challenging transition from print to web and the dismal economy's
effect on advertising.
But there's also been a change in
culture since Village Voice Media took over the paper in 2006, and
what's seen as a reduction of the editorial department is also a
changing of the guard. While some liberals and the ex-Weekly
writers who catered to them lament the loss of the paper's crusty,
bell-bottom voice, we'd argue that the future here is bright -- and
The paper is in the midst of an online expansion that
focuses on hyper local, street-level news, music, food and culture reporting. And
you'll see it become a bigger and bigger destination for daily online
readers who seek the bottom line on what's going on in L.A.
While the Weekly
of yesteryear was a place for old white guys to pontificate -- in
10,000 words or less -- about the state of the nation, the new Weekly
is, ironically, more like a daily newspaper, where reporters and
journalists are employed to report, dig and do research before putting
it on paper in fewer, tighter, fact-driven words.
We would admit
that it's a different place indeed, but we'd argue that it's a place
for real journalism. There are too many outlets today where anyone with
a laptop can bloviate about the ills of the right. It's clear from the
inside that the Weekly wants to break news, investigate and
inform in a city that is arguably the greatest news town in America --
one that the Tommy states correctly is "increasingly underreported."
Herculean is not the word. Once we dust off the notepads that were rarely used by some of the Weekly's columnists of yesterday, it'll be like shooting fish in a barrel.