LA Weekly Lays Off Staffers After Sale to Secret Buyers

“We weren’t expecting the Red Wedding,” says editor Mara Shalhoup

LA Weekly, which in October was sold to mystery buyer group Semanal Media, LLC, has been hit Wednesday with layoffs so devastating that editor Mara Shalhoup likened it to the Red Wedding on “Game of Thrones.”

“We were expecting there to be some pain with the sale of @LAWeekly. But we weren’t expecting the Red Wedding. That’s how deep the cuts are,” Shalhoup said in a Twitter thread Wednesday afternoon. Another now-former LA Weekly editor separately confirmed the layoffs to TheWrap.

Shalhoup said that her “dream team” has been “eviscerated,” and that nine of 13 editorial staffers are gone, including all five editors–including music editor Andy Hermann, arts and culture editor Gwynedd Stuart, managing editor Drew Tewksbury and food editor Katherine Spiers– and all but one staff writer.

She urged others in the news business to hire these writers, calling her former staff “hard-working,” “creative” and “devoted.” She also noted that the team has recently been nominated for 21 LA Press Club Awards.

LA Weekly’s parent Village Media Group sold the venerable alt-magazine 10 months after putting it on the market. Semanal, whose name means “weekly” in Spanish, is a new entity established solely for the purpose of acquiring the LA Weekly, a Dirks, Van Essen & Murray spokesperson confirmed to the Los Angeles Times. The spokesperson declined to say at the time where the company is based, or who owns it.

On Nov. 9 Semanal appointed Brian Calle, a conservative-leaning former Opinion Editor for the Orange County Register,  to manage LA Weekly’s operations. At the time, Calle told the Los Angeles Times that new ownership and management would not change LA Weekly’s editorial bent. But with the scope of Wednesday’s layoffs apparently coming as a surprise, the future direction of LA Weekly remains, like its buyers, a mystery.

See Shalhoup’s full commentary on the layoffs below.