Our occasional roundup of news and notes. As always, between posts you can keep up with LA Observed on Twitter — now with 24,833 followers.
LA Weekly pivots to unpaid 'contributors'The business model, such as it is, for the new Orange County-oriented owners of the LA Weekly seems to be coming into clearer focus. Well, less hazy focus anyway. After firing all but four of the editorial staff, the Weekly's new ownership group (mostly Republican donors) tweeted a call for "passionate Angelinos [sic] to share stories about their life and culture in LA." You mean, for free like on a blog?
Yesterday I got what will be my last check from #LAWeekly . The new owners announced that stories will now be written by unpaid "contributors." This is apparently how you "save" journalism in LA. By asking writers to work for free. Fuck these clowns forever. pic.twitter.com/77KougjYpy— Katie Bain (@bainofyrexstnce) December 2, 2017
The Weekly's online pages last week began showing more marijuana ads, so maybe the new ownership team is looking to run things on the cheap then reap a windfall from ads when pot sales become legal in California next year. Except by then, who in Los Angeles might still be reading the LA Weekly? The paper had long ago lost most of the progressive political base that was its most loyal core readership, and what's left of the rest of the traditional alt-weekly readership — a dwindling pool everywhere in the country, with so many reading options available — is likely to be put off by comments like this from new co-owner Steve Mehr: "There's no agenda other than making an immense effort to allow [LA Weekly] to be the voice of L.A. again," Mehr said. "We don't have a cultural scene on par with New York and San Francisco." Reaction to that view of LA culture has not been gentle.
Some of the recently exiled LA Weekly writers are calling for a boycott and are planning a protest demonstration outside the offices in Culver City later this week. New honcho Brian Calle has yet to update his Twitter feed, which still shows him as VP of Opinion for the Southern California News Group. But he did post a tone-deaf piece on the Weekly website, identifying the owners and saying the Weekly they bought was a shadow of its former self. "Our new ownership team is a patchwork of people who care about Los Angeles, care about the community and want to once again see an incredibly relevant, thriving L.A. Weekly with edge and grit that becomes the cultural center of the city." Well actually, not a single one has any track record of any interest in Los Angeles culture. The only common thread seems to be OC and conservative or libertarian politics. It's possible these guys (and they are all men) are just amateurs who saw an investment and are already in way over their heads — none have ever run any publication, let alone one as audience-niched as the LA Weekly. By the way, they also forgot to change the passwords: a former staffer was able to log in last week and post on the website a snarky piece asking who does own the Weekly.
Meanwhile, several former Weekly writers, editors or freelancers were proud finalists in Sunday night's National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards given by the LA Press Club. Three won I believe: Drew Tewksbury, Sarah Bennett and Steve Appleford. The Press Club said in a statement a couple of days ago: "We are deeply saddened by what's happened to the LA Weekly staff. A city like Los Angeles needs a broad variety of journalistic voices - the LA Weekly being one of these voices."
The Weekly staff has also received some nice celebrity pats on the back on social media.
LA WEEKLY provided a passionate view of the city I love for as long as I can remember. Personally, the only cover story about myself that's ever brought me to tears was written by @AWolfeful for the publication. It's a beautiful voice. Let's keep it alive. https://t.co/N7tfbClEGa— Ava DuVernay (@ava) December 3, 2017
I too grew up on LA Weekly. They carried us through the AIDS crisis in the 80’s with dignity and solid cutting edge information. They were the beautiful alt voice to Reagan’s and Bush’s hateful propaganda and war rhetoric. Whoever has bought them must show themselves. https://t.co/wEOGEGPEqO— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) December 4, 2017
Thank you - what great company to be in. I'd like to mention Ginger Varney, who back in the day (with Michael Ventura) set the incredible standard for Weekly film writing. Some of its other great female film critics include Helen Knode and my long-time colleague Ella Taylor. https://t.co/04B6jwVfyT— Manohla Dargis (@ManohlaDargis) December 3, 2017
NYT's Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor feted in LAThe hits of Sunday night's Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards at the Biltmore were clearly New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, honored for their stories that led to the takedown of Hollywood sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. Kantor and Twohey received a standing ovation (listen in), and as one attendee tweeted, this was one Press Club awards speech where everyone put down their glasses, shut up and paid attention.
@mega2e on power of journalism, leaning on institution of @nytimes to stand up against bullies, threats. She ends by saying, ‘onward comrades, much more work to be done.’ @LAPressClub pic.twitter.com/LsBVld3BMy— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) December 4, 2017
Variety co-editors Claudia Eller and Andrew Wallenstein were honored for career achievement, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the legend award, Tippi Hedren was honored for her humanitarian work and the co-creators of "Sesame Street" were also honored. Gary Baum of the Hollywood Reporter was named the Entertainment Journalist of the Year. List of winners.
LA Film Critics voteThe Los Angeles Film Critics Association gathered Sunday morning for the members' annual much-of-the-day arguments over which movies and filmmakers to fete for the year. Presented this time via live tweet. The critics came up with "Call Me By Your Name" as best picture. Here's the full list of winners.
Meanwhile, IndieWire's Anne Thompson came out with her personal list of the Top 12 Films of 2017, Including Five Directed By Women.
Good readCalifornia Sunday Magazine published an ambitious issue devoted to teenagers, including this piece by Elizabeth Weil (with "comments and corrections" by her daughter Hannah W. Duane) on raising a teenage daughter. The photo is by Tabitha Soren.
When you have a 2- or 3-year-old child, there’s always someone with older kids who tells you that having a toddler is just like having a teen. You don’t believe them, which is adaptive, because it’s really not OK, when you have a toddler, to think that it doesn’t get easier. But it’s true. The first time around, your kid screams and cries and tries to run into traffic; you catch her. Your kid pokes body parts into every available crevice and does her best to electrocute herself; you prevent her. Hannah, as a toddler, was capable of getting hurt just sitting on a kitchen stool. She’d lose focus for a second and WHACK! She’d hit the floor, forehead first. It’s upsetting. The job as a parent of a young kid is risk management. It’s exhausting but not complicated. You don’t even need to know much about your child in particular except that he or she is a human baby in a human-baby body, and all the rules and indemnities apply.
But then your kid starts doing it again, a dozen years later, making forays into independence, pursuing near-death experiences, throwing tantrums at horrible times. Only now you’re out of the realm of Newtonian physics — toddler runs, you accelerate and catch — and into the disorienting arena of quantum mechanics, in which everything is incredibly small or incredibly large, and nothing is stable, logical, or obvious. The goal, now, is not just to keep your child alive (though there is that, too) but to steer your child through the hormonal hell-waters of adolescence onto the firm shores of adulthood where, with luck, your child won’t be an idiot or an ass.
It’s a tough task. How well do you know your child?...
Media notesWell look at that. It's been a year since Los Angeles Magazine asked what's the matter with the LA Times? Whew, a lot has transpired since then... Meanwhile, Times management has created a website with its anti-union arguments, hoping to counter the LAT Guild and its latest criticism of Tronc spending on corporate jets and very big executive salaries... Former LAT managing editor Marc Duvoisin is helping the Houston Chronicle with its post-hurricane projects... Leo Wolinsky, a pre-Tronc managing editor at the LAT, learned he has a Holocaust-era inheritance in Israel... Check out the front page of Saturday's LAT Calendar section: all-text to dramatically highlight a story on apologies by Hollywood's parade of sexual misbehaviorists.
Billy Bush, the former host of “Access Hollywood” and “Today,” wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which he re-confirmed that of course Donald Trump actually bragged about using his celebrity status to prey on women and personally uttered the line, “Grab ’em by the pussy."... ABC News veteran Shannon Van Sant essayed that, in the TV news world, it's not just the Mark Halperins and Matt Lauers driving women out of the business... Sunset Magazine sold to a California private equity firm that also owns Army Times... The new opinion editor for the Southern California News Group papers is Scott Kaufman. Promoted from deputy, succeeding new LA Weekly boss Brian Calle... Netflix’s Gloria Allred documentary will premiere in 2018, says Vulture...
Andrew Lam on Pacific News Service: A news organization that insisted on inclusive journalism is closing its doors... Wired: When Local News Struggles, Democracy Withers, about Bay Area media... Why You Should Apply to Be KPCC’s Next Managing Editor, by chief content officer Kristen Muller... Ella Taylor: In praise of difficult mothers, her own and those on screen.
Ratings: LA's top radio stations per the October Nielsen audio ratings, as reported by LA Business Journal and ranked by audience share, or what percentage of all radio listeners tune in for five minutes during a 15-minute period: KBIG 104.3, KOST 103.5, KIIS 102.7, KRTH 101.1, and KTWV 94.7. The first AM station comes in at #6, KFI 640, but here's how small the SoCal radio audience is for individual stations. KFI's audience share is 3.9 percent... On the TV side, KABC Channel 7 leads with a 6 share (the percentage of homes with a TV on at the rating time), then KCBS Channel 2 (5 share) and KNBC Channel 4 (5 share), and KTTV Channel 11 (4 share.) PBS SoCal and KCET both have 1 shares... The story for both radio and TV, says the LABJ, is that Spanish-language stations are losing audience and have fallen out of the top level in the ratings.
Impressive project: The LA Times looks at apartment rent in Los Angeles.
December in Los Angeles
Extreme fire danger for #Socal through at least Thu due to long duration of #SantaAnaWinds. Most critical conditions will be Mon night-Tue when strong #SantaAnaWinds couple with single digit humidities. #LAWind #LAWeather pic.twitter.com/BClBIyunK7— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) December 4, 2017
Place notesColin Kaepernick was honored this weekend by the ACLU of Southern California -- ABC 7
Increased methane levels reported at SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon facility near Porter Ranch - Daily News
LAPD cadet scandal: Joyrides in cruisers went on for weeks before anyone caught on - LA Times
Untangling the 51st State Assembly District race - Eastsider LA
Elon Musk’s Tunnel Through L.A. Just Happens To Go From His House To His Office - Fast Company
New and oldThe lunch hour and evening lines (above) so far are pretty long at Eataly, the Mario Batali emporium of Italian food in the newly renovated Westfield Century City shopping mall. And in Mar Vista, the closing of a Champagne branch has led to the re-emerging of the sign for Orleans, once a very popular Cajun and Creole restaurant that was converted two decades ago into a Starbucks. LA Observed photos.
For what it’s worth... I still work at LA Weekly. We’re still putting out a paper next week. It’s super weird. Maybe something good will come out of this. Maybe not. New owners are 12 or so people, their names should be released soon.— Hillel Aron (@hillelaron) December 1, 2017
The only thing left to decide about Trump is do we try him as an adult?— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) December 3, 2017
What media coverage of @laweekly's new owners haven't pointed out yet is that all the owners are the uncoolest people you could possibly meet in OC, a collection of dorks, dweebs, dopes and dipshits— GustavoArellano (@GustavoArellano) December 1, 2017
We appreciate the enthusiasm, but please don't send "testing," or "just making sure this works" text messages to 9-1-1. The system is working and these messages prevent operators from handing other calls. Text-to-911 is for emergencies only. Thank you. @LAPDHQ #TextTo911 #LAPD— LAPD Communications Division (@911LAPD) December 2, 2017
Thanks to all my new twitter followers for pushing over the 7k mark!! pic.twitter.com/neQ5zWbspV— Jovana Lara (@abc7jovana) December 4, 2017
Sometimes I read old pieces of mine and swear to god have no idea how I came up with certain phrases. I don't even recognize them.— Susan Orlean (@susanorlean) November 30, 2017
If you tried to start a car that's been sitting for decades, you may not expect it to work. But a set of thrusters aboard the @NASAVoyager 1 spacecraft, which is now in interstellar space, successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use! https://t.co/WkXngWbXBN pic.twitter.com/y7sdXKk3f0— NASA (@NASA) December 2, 2017
At Echo Park Lake this morning with a crew from French TV channel Arte. pic.twitter.com/HVyFmuVZz9— Kevin Roderick (@LAObserved) December 2, 2017