When Jill Stewart was forced on the LA Weekly as deputy editor by headquarters in Phoenix, there was much speculation on how her politically charged editing style would sit with the staff's rising-star reporters. David Zahniser, Jeffrey Anderson and Daniel Hernandez brought the Weekly lots of positive notice for hard-hitting investigations and strong pieces that broke from the Weekly's lefty roots. I predicted departures — and now they're all gone. Zahniser jumped to the Times as soon as possible. Anderson left last Friday after, according to multiple sources, requesting reassignment away from Stewart. And the news broke today that Hernandez is moving to Mexico City to write a book for Scribner.
Hernandez didn't report to Stewart and his departure is said to be about the book opportunity, which grew out of a Weekly cover story. (He blogs it here.) Sources say that Anderson, however, grew increasingly uncomfortable with Stewart and recently asked to work with a different editor. When the request was denied, he negotiated an exit deal. Anderson confirmed for me that he asked Editor Laurie Ochoa for a reassignment, then reached a mutual agreement to leave, but he wouldn't elaborate. His email:
I'm proud of my work at the LA Weekly, and grateful for the opportunity to work there. Having left, I have the good fortune to now join the Baltimore City Paper, a fine publication with high editorial standards and a sense of purpose. I will miss my colleagues at the Weekly, several of whom have already left, and hold them in the highest regard.
Staff writer Joshua Bearman also left recently, but I don't know the circumstances. More and more of the Weekly's local coverage is written by Stewart's freelancers, such as City Hall goofball Zuma Dogg. By the way, this time the job posting on the Weekly letters page asks applicants to contact Ochoa, not some distant Village Voice Media editor.