* Updated with link to story and cover of Blume and Kaplan
Tomorrow's Pasadena Weekly will go into detail on the firing of LA Weekly reporter Howard Blume—described as the highest-salaried union staffer at the paper—and tensions in the newsroom. PW reporter Joe Piasecki apparently attended a gathering of LA Weekly staffers Saturday night at the home of staff writer and union steward Erin Aubry Kaplan, who says in the piece that the Weekly is going softer under editor-in-chief Laurie Ochoa.
"They’re backing away from public policy issues. They want sexy stuff that creates buzz. That turns out not to be investigative stories about public education," said Kaplan in reference to Blume’s now-defunct beat covering area schools, "though they may be more important....
Ochoa’s new vision, as she reportedly called it when telling staffers of Blume’s firing, is "politically oppressive," Kaplan said, arguing the paper should be "more serious than it’s being. They’re turning away from hard news at exactly the wrong time."
Ochoa, who politely declined to discuss Blume’s firing "for reasons I’m sure you understand," wholeheartedly denied via email that claims the paper is going soft,
though brought by some of her own writers, have any substance to them at all. "There is no trend in the paper toward fluffier features and blander politics, as any regular reader of the paper knows," wrote Ochoa, who took the helm in 2001.
The story says that recent departures from the LA Weekly staff, in addition to Blume, include Music Editor John Payne, Calendar Editor Sharon Bell, art staffer Tulsa Kinney and, last year, her husband Charles Rappleye. The PW counts ten active union grievances against LA Weekly management and four charges of unfair labor practices filed with the NLRB, with another on the way. Pasadena Weekly, by the way, is a sister paper of LA Weekly rival CityBeat.