Destroying The Press: A Mysterious Company Bought LA Weekly And Just Gutted Its Staff


By Lydia O’Connor
The HuffPost (11/30/17)

Free press advocates and LA Weekly staffers are demanding that the mysterious company that bought the news organization and gutted most of its staff reveal its identity.

Semanal LLC, the secretive buyer that formed for the sole purpose of purchasing LA Weekly last month, closed on the sale Wednesday and promptly laid off nine of the 13 members of the alternative weekly’s editorial staff, sending shock waves across an industry already rattled by unexpected reductions and closures.

On Thursday, the Society of Professional Journalists condemned Semanal’s continued anonymity.

“In an era of rampant misinformation and distrust, it’s especially important that we do not allow the owners and backers of news organizations to remain a mystery,” said SPJ ethics committee chairperson Andrew Seaman. “We cannot allow this to become the norm.”

LA Weekly, which has been in operation in Los Angeles for about 40 years, also posted a story on its site urging readers to question its new ownership.

“The new owners of L.A. Weekly don’t want you to know who they are,” wrote contributor Keith Plocek, a lecturer at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “They are hiding from you. They’ve got big black bags with question marks covering their big bald heads.”

The cuts leave LA Weekly with just one staff writer. …

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Billionare Trump Backer Shuts Down Gothamist Sites And DNAinfo & Wipes Archives From Net After Staffers Unionize

By Lydia O’Connor
The HuffPost (11/2/17)

The neighborhood news sites DNAinfo, Gothamist and their sister sites shut down without warning on Thursday, just days after some of their staff members announced they had unionized.

The sites now redirect to a letter from billionaire CEO Joe Ricketts, who founded DNAInfo in 2009 and bought New York-focused Gothamist and its other city-specific sister sites earlier this year. He cited financial reasons for the closure.

But DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure. And while we made important progress toward building DNAinfo into a successful business, in the end, that progress hasn’t been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded. I want to thank our readers for their support and loyalty through the years. And I want to thank our employees for their tireless effort and dedication.

I’m hopeful that in time, someone will crack the code on a business that can support exceptional neighborhood storytelling for I believe telling those stories remains essential.

Ricketts’ decision puts 115 staff members out of work, including those at the New York locations who unionized and those in the other locations ― San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. ― who did not, the New York Times reported. …

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