Speed Reads

Media Madness

A secret group of investors bought LA Weekly, then fired most of its writers and editors

On Wednesday, a group called Semanal Media finished its purchase of Los Angeles alt-weekly newspaper LA Weekly — then promptly laid off nine of the 13 members of the editorial staff, including all five editors and all but one staff writer. "We were expecting there to be some pain with the sale," tweeted Mara Shalhoup, who was editor of the publication until Wednesday. "But we weren't expecting the Red Wedding. That's how deep the cuts are." Voice Media Group put LA Weekly, founded in 1978, up for sale in January, saying it was profitable.

Only one of Semenal's investors is publicly known, lawyer and CEO David Welch, and the company was created just to purchase LA Weekly. The company named Brian Calle to manage operations earlier this month; The Wrap describes him as "a conservative-leaning former opinion editor for the Orange County Register." Nobody seems to know what his, or Semenal's, plans are for the newspaper. "I would find it very hard to know what to do in the next few days, given the amount of institutional knowledge that's walking out the door," Shalhoup told the Los Angeles Times. Billionaire Joe Ricketts closed another local news organization, LAist, at the beginning of the month.