Media people

Scene at the Weekly

StewartYesterday's upheaval at the LA Weekly — first detailed here — sent observers of the paper and staffers buzzing into the night about what the future holds. At the afternoon newsroom gathering, sources who were there tell me, once the shock of friends being laid off (and closure of the fact-checking desk) sunk in most of the concern voiced was about Jill Stewart's role. There was relief that the former KCAL 9 analyst (pictured) was not named editor of the paper, as some rumors had predicted. But there was open dismay that as of Nov. 13 she would be overseeing the core of reporters built by fired news editor Alan Mittelstaedt. His group, which includes Civic Center diggers David Zahniser and Jeffrey Anderson and recent hire (from the Times) Daniel Hernandez, has produced a good bit of the recent positive buzz about the Weekly's feistier and less-political journalism. Stewart is feisty but more of an agenda-driven crusader.

Incumbent editor Laurie Ochoa tried to soften the blow, telling the staff that Stewart was an "aesthetic choice" of Village Voice Media editor-in-chief Mike Lacey and that he assured Ochoa at a meeting this week in Phoenix that these were the only changes for now. Lacey has a deserved reputation for standing up for his writers, Ochoa assured the room. Tinkering with the formula would be a risk for Lacey, since the ad-rich Weekly is more profitable — and better read — than his New Times Los Angeles ever was. But he brings a rap as a tinkerer. He'll have at least one loyalist in the newsroom in Stewart, and maybe she will win over others. I wouldn't be surprised, though, to see more departures — voluntarily this time. Yesterday's post: Big turmoil at the Weekly.

Meanwhile: Since the Weekly has dropped its well-read pre-election endorsements, CityBeat has jumped in to fill the void. The paper backs Democrats for all the state offices except Governor (no endorsement) and Insurance Commissioner (Steve Poizner over Cruz Bustamante.) Locally, they recommend yes on H and no on R. Click for the full list.

Updates:
Stewart gives notice
Email to LA Observed about Stewart's hiring
Lacey responds

Photo of Jill Stewart: Pajamas Media


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