A Newspaper’s Laid Off Former Writers Are Leading A Boycott Of Its Food Events
Being fired is never a pleasant experience. Fry cook or professional basketball coach — it’s often humiliating and scary, even when it’s properly handled. And when you get fired out of nowhere? Well, that’s a whole lot worse.
Let’s back up and give this some context. Respected indie newspaper LA Weekly was bought last week by a mysterious set of backers named Semanal Media. The first thing they did once they had control was fire pretty much everybody, which the paper’s suddenly former editor-in-chief compared to the Red Wedding. This, in of itself, is a lousy thing to do, but unfortunately not uncommon in our upheaval-ready media landscape.
But as bad as this sounds, it gets worse: LA Weekly put out a call for “contributors” who wouldn’t be paid — not a great look when your new editor-in-chief calls himself a “free market enthusiast” — kicking off a weekend of scorn and apparently taking the new owners aback:
I’m reporting for @PacificStand on the recent upheaval at LA Weekly, and a source forwarded me a dispatch from inside the building. Things are looking rough.
Includes “this weekend was horrible and amateur,” “why everyone saw this coming except you,” and advertisers pulling out. pic.twitter.com/IqEbtfQNlS
— Jack Denton (@jackwdenton) December 5, 2017
Which brings us to the fact that LA Weekly runs several food events around the city, most of which work on the back of restaurants, who trade free food and drink for the invaluable advertising that comes from people showing up to the events. The problem is that word that LA Weekly is under new management is just spreading, so former LA Weekly writers, led by Jeff Weiss are rallying to let them know:
Here’s a list of the restaurants, bars & chefs that we need to call and & email today. Here’s a loose script to follow. I urge you to be polite. These restaurants & sponsors are blameless. They don’t know yet that LA Weekly has been hijacked by crooks & liars. pic.twitter.com/S5hqSAr56U
— Otto Von Biz Markie (@Passionweiss) December 5, 2017
The most important point Weiss makes is that most food events are done with the expectation that food critics and local writers will be there to sample the restaurant’s wares, and possibly write about these same restaurants down the road. But since LA Weekly no longer has a food section, and won’t be paying anybody to write for it, that’s clearly not the case.
The boycott has already had some takers on Twitter:
Hello vendors @otiumla @SuzanneGoin @eversonroycebar @LockandKeyLA @LaCuevitaBar @neranobh @ThePikeyLA @RaymondPasadena @atmomed — we ask you to #BoycottLAWeekly & not participate in #sipsandsweets next Thur due to the demolition of this pub. https://t.co/rmnsKTBveh
— esther tseng (@estarLA) December 5, 2017
This sits at a tricky intersection, for both writers and publishers. It’s not exactly clear why LA Weekly was bought, although many suspect a political motive similar to billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson’s purchase of Las Vegas’ newspaper of record. Even without that aspect, though, many in the city are upset that a talented, experienced team dedicated to local news got thrown out on their ears with little consideration for its effects on the city or what it might do to the paper. The resulting backlash may be enough to give LA Weekly’s mysterious new owners some serious heartburn, no matter how many event tickets they sell.