'Profitable' LA Weekly put up for sale

weekly-covers.jpgThe owners of the LA Weekly announced today that the venerable Los Angeles alt weekly is the chain's next paper to be offered for sale. The statement from Voice Media Group bills the offering as "a special opportunity for a buyer with an appreciation for the Weekly’s long history as a progressive icon in America’s second-largest market."

The apparently expect some real interest in the Weekly.

Founded in 1978 by an initial investment group that included actor Michael Douglas, L.A. Weekly quickly developed into a must-read for anyone interested in taking the cultural pulse of Los Angeles. Its hard-hitting investigative stories, spirited criticism, and provocative film, arts and music coverage have made it part of the fabric of L.A., and it is the nation’s most widely read alt-weekly, with well over 3 million active users visiting laweekly.com each month.

The Weekly is profitable – and it’s also an important journalistic force in Southern California. In 2008 Weekly reporter Christine Pelisek broke the story of the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer, a true-crime blockbuster that was later optioned into a Lifetime TV movie. Its writers have dominated the L.A. Press Club's Journalist of the Year award, winning three times in the last six years. Nationally, the Weekly has won more awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia than any other publication in the country. And in 2007 it became the first newspaper to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for restaurant criticism.

Under VMG’s management, the Weekly has also engaged readers with some of the city’s most popular cultural events. In June, its “Tacolandia” food event draws thousands of guests, who sample signature tacos from more than 100 of the world's best taquerias at El Pueblo de Los Angeles in downtown Los Angeles. And in March, “The Essentials” brings L.A.’s top restaurants and their most popular dishes together under one roof at California Market Center.

VMG’s decision to shop the Weekly is part of a strategic corporate realignment that began when a new ownership group took the reins four years ago. Under that plan, the company has aggressively built a digital agency business that has exponentially expanded the services available to local customers. Double-digit growth since its inception has allowed V Digital Services to open regional offices in 12 major U.S. cities along with a number of international markets.

Village Media Group previously sold off the OC Weekly in Orange County and the Village Voice in New York, as well as the SF Weekly in San Francisco. "Just as motivated buyers stepped forward in other cities, we expect to see a great level of interest in the Weekly,” Voice Media Group chief executive officer Scott Tobias says in the announcement.

I like how the LA Weekly itself framed the news: "This cultured, free-spirited, deep-thinking 38-year-old is looking for a like-minded millionaire/billionaire for an LTR. Must love innovation as much as ink stains."

Let's see how it goes. I hope they attract a good and preferably local buyer. These owners have I think been pretty good for the Weekly, at least in contrast to the New Times drunkards from Phoenix who took over a decade or so ago.

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