How the New Times Publishers Destroyed Alternative Weeklies

L.A. Weekly's Marc Cooper
The Phoenix New Times doesn’t hesitate to write mean things about everyone else, so it’s just desserts that one of its own has published an expose on publishers Lacey & Larkin. Former L.A. Weekly longtime reporter Marc Cooper (and brief employee of Lacey & Larkin) has penned a lengthy critique of how Lacey & Larkin destroyed the Village Voice and other alternative news weeklies they touched. Here are some excerpts:

…In 1996 they moved into L.A. to directly confront the L.A. Weekly – more or less the way Michael Corleone moved in on Moe Green’s Las Vegas. Lacey and Larkin bought out and closed two smaller local weeklies and went out of their way to insult the laid-off staff in the process. There are numerous witnesses with harrowing stories of the day Lacey came in and berated (and fired) the staff of The Reader which he had just bought.

Within months, it was clear that Lacey and Larkin were banking on the perceived talents of their lead columnist Jill Stewart. Once a respected L.A. Times metro writer, Stewart had become a snarling bulldog infected with a rather strange world-view which came to dominate The New Times Los Angeles….This sort of unfounded snarling and sniping from the local New Times Los Angeles, as embodied in Stewart’s writing, built no significant audience, never really bit into the Weekly’s readership or advertising revenue and eventually led to the slow, long decline and uneventful quiet folding of the local New Times paper in 2002.

That jalopy officially got towed to the junkyard when the Lacey-Larkin management fired the last remaining “name writer” at the Voice this last New Year’s weekend – the venerable Nat Hentoff. He was probably the one reason why half of the paper’s remaining readership even bothered to pick up the rag.

And into 2006, the new merged company run by Lacey –which took the name of the vanquished Village Voice Media— found its own Vietnam in the Village Voice and was too distracted to screw around with the L.A Weekly. The Voice was bleeding cash and no one could be found to edit what had become a fish-wrapper. As of this date, the paper remains a ghost of its prior self.

Jill Stewart gleefully set about immediately dismantling the L.A. Weekly’s news department….In their place, laughable “reporters” were brought in to scribble highly ideological pieces that reflected Stewart’s world view. How about a reporter named Zuma Dogg who “wrote” this little ditty? I put that word in quote marks as it was an open secret that it was Stewart who actually wrote most of Dogg’s otherwise illegible piece ( A rapper/ranter, Mr. Dogg had once boasted: “I don’t like to read”). And no matter that this was the same Mr. Dogg who was an eccentric gadfly who repeatedly disrupted local agency meetings for which he was now being paid to report on.

The full article is here.


Comments

  1. That they took the name of the Village Voice for their miserable company is disgusting. Read the recent New Yorker article on how the Voice, founded by Norman Mailer, Dan Wolf and others in the 1950s, really changed American journalism.

    As a teenager growing up in New York in the late 1960s, I’d get the Voice every Wednesday and read fantastic writers like Nat Hentoff (very left, very dedicated to the First Amendment, but also very anti-abortion) – who was just laid off in his 80s by this awful company – and many others, and it opened a new world. It was stuff you couldn’t get in the daily papers.

    I worked in the early 70s as a messenger for the display advertising department of the Voice. It was a wonderful place, filled with talented and dedicated people, even on the business side of the paper where I worked.

    New Times let it pretty much die, as they did the very good LA Weekly and other alt-weeklies in cities around the country. They are not a good company.

  2. Richard – so very true. I was shocked when I heard they laid off Hentoff. Besides the things you mention he also has incredible writing on jazz.

  3. Capitalism is capitalism, isn’t it?

    What is different here from what businesses to each other and throw people away like used tires?

  4. James Davidson says

    There’s smart capitalism and there’s dumb capitalism. Larkin and Lacey are dumb and dumber. They got rich and apparently think they can treat people like dirt. That was always Lacey’s pen style, now it seems to be their business style.

  5. Pretty ironic to see the Sonoran Alliance blindly citing an admitted socialist whose chief complaint with Lacey/Larkin is that they brought a conservative columnist and editor to their paper in LA. Alt-weeklies hate the New Times papers because they aren’t strictly left-wing; they call it like they see it.

  6. James Davidson says

    Even a socialist gets it right once in a while.

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