The Los Angeles Times reported in October that LA Weekly, an alternative paper in the city, was being sold to Semanal LLC, a company that was created for the purchase.
“LA Weekly’s staff was gutted Wednesday as Voice Media Group completed its sale of the alternative newsweekly to a newly created company, Semanal Media.”
“Nine of the 13 members of the editorial staff lost their jobs, including all the top editors and all but one of the staff writers.” the Los Angles article went on to say.
Publisher, Matt Copperstein was fired and other staffers in the business and marketing department lost their jobs as well.
None of Semanal’s backers were revealed at that time. David Welch, an attorney, was eventually reported as an investor. Brian Calle, a former opinion writer, also said in the press that he’d manage the paper’s operations.
The Society of Professional Journalists, a 9000 member national organization of journalists, journalism educators, and students interested in journalism is demanding answers!
In their press release forwarded to national media outlets, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) is calling on the new owners of LA Weekly to disclose their identities and be transparent with their readers. “The community and the nine people they fired deserve to know that information.”
“There is no excuse for the owners of the LA Weekly to hide their identities, and they should be revealed immediately,” SPJ President Rebecca Baker said. “As SPJ has said before, to not reveal yourselves is to treat your readers with less dignity than humans deserve and with less respect than democracy should demand. It is appalling and offensive.”
The Society of Professional Journalists is committed to supporting a high level of excellence and responsibility among news organizations. Those traits must emanate from the organization’s ownership and begins with disclosure of their identities.
SPJ’s delegates made a commitment to speak out in similar situations when a company backed by Sheldon Adelson and his family purchased The Las Vegas Review-Journal in late-2015 under the cover of darkness.
As SPJ made clear during the purchase of The Las Vegas Review-Journal, people have considerable justification to question the quality and value of the information provided by an organization overseen by a shadowy company of anonymous financial backers.
“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 Andrew Seaman, SPJ’s ethics committee chairperson. “We cannot allow this to become the norm.”
The new owners of LA Weekly – and all news organizations – should be transparent about their identities. SPJ demands it. “The public demands it. Democracy demands it.”
About Society of Professional Journalists
SPJ is a professional organization that includes broadcast, print and online journalists, journalism educators, and students interested in journalism as a career.
The Society of Professional Journalists is dedicated to the perpetuation of a free press as the cornerstone of our nation and our liberty.
Founded: 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi fraternity
Location: Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis
Purpose: To Improve & Protect Journalism