Happy 25th

The LA Weekly 25th anniversary issue out today sounds like a keeper. The website revisits many past stories, and there is an interview with founder Jay Levin by Kristine McKenna. A snippet:

During its early years, the Weekly office is rumored to have been a hotbed of drug abuse and interoffice sex. To what degree have those stories been exaggerated?

Wildly. Some people in the production department may’ve been engaged in those sorts of things, but after about a year we brought in an operations manager who said, “There’s a drug problem here, and I’m getting rid of the people who are causing it.”

Did the chaos in the office during those early days contribute to the spirit of the paper?

Oh yeah, definitely. There are lots of different kinds of drugs, by the way. There were people there who obviously smoked grass, but people weren’t walking around the office openly doing drugs. People like to tell stories about the party times, but we were busy putting out a paper and everybody was working their ass off.

He also gives a quick critique of each editor to follow him.

What sort of changes did you see in the paper under [Kit Rachlis', now editor of Los Angeles magazine] editorship?

There’s a certain passion the Weekly had for consciously working to make a difference with that big story, and the paper abandoned — apparently permanently — really strong journalism that tries to do the big story. It opted instead to provide a forum for writer’s voices, and became much more centrist in terms of its politics. A right-winger won’t say that, but viewed from the perspective of where the Weekly came from, it became significantly more centrist.

What sort of changes did Sue Horton (now editor of the L.A. Times Sunday Opinion section) bring to the Weekly?

Sue went to a lot of local coverage and stepped back big time from coverage of national issues. It was solid, dependable local coverage, but the big stories didn’t show up on a regular basis.

And what does the Laurie Ochoa Weekly look like?

She’s tightened and sharpened the local news coverage, and added back some commentary on national affairs, but the focus is mostly on the local culture, both the arts culture and the people culture.

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