UPDATE, March 1, 9:20 a.m.: The purchase price for all four magazines was $6.5 million, according to an SEC filing. If that sounds low, it is; consider that in 2000, Los Angeles Magazine alone sold to Emmis for $30 million.
New owners took over Los Angeles Magazine today and quickly laid off more than a half-dozen staffers — all of them women, according to information obtained by the Weekly. A member of the editorial staff who did not want to be named said the layoffs included the publisher, the editor-in-chief, the head of digital strategy and the copy chief.
Outgoing editor-in-chief Mary Melton tweeted, "After a 16+ year run, seven of those as editor-in-chief, this is my last day with @LAmag." Melton also was the editorial director for the publication's parent company, Emmis, a media corporation with radio roots that announced last year it would sell Los Angeles and almost all of its well-regarded print titles to focus on the airwaves. Last fall Emmis' Texas Monthly sold for a reported $25 million.
An Emmis press release today announced that Atlanta, Cincinnati, Orange Coast and Los Angeles magazines have been sold to Hour Media Group LLC and that Emmis would hold onto its hometown magazine, Indianapolis Monthly. Emmis chairman-CEO Jeff Smulyan called the decision to sell those titles "difficult."
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Los Angeles' staff found out about the sale and the layoffs today, a source said. People were shocked and unsure what direction L.A.'s premier city magazine would take. Meeting with staffers, representatives of the new owners indicated that they did not want to see the publication, known for its food writing and long-form profiles, change course. The new ownership publishes five magazines including Hour Detroit and Detroit Home.
The source said losing Melton was unsettling for many on the editorial staff. The announcement was made on the day that Emmis closed its fiscal year, according to the source. A staff meeting was scheduled for morning.
Melton tweeted that she got her start in journalism when she worked with then–L.A. Weekly editor Kit Rachlis in 1990; she began her career as an intern here. He "championed me ever since," she wrote. Rachlis, now an editor at California Sunday Magazine, edited Los Angeles during its financial glory days in the '00s, when it boasted contributions from J.R. Moehringer, Jesse Katz and Amy Wallace, the publication's editor-at-large, who tweeted tonight, "Today will be my last at @LAmag."
Melton praised her staff and noted some of the recognition it earned over the years, including James Beard Awards for its food coverage.