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Goodbye OC Weekly

The day before Thanksgiving, the owner of OC Weekly shuttered the publication and two others, laying off a number of editors, writers and publication staff for the 24 or 25 year old Alt-Weekly.  I got more than a dozen messages that had the theme “another reason to be thankful.”

OC Weekly delivered a number of great scoops and reporting over the years.  And there were a number of misses as well.  The Weekly suffered the same fate as excellent alt-weeklies like the Boston Phoenix, the Village Voice, and LA Weekly.  And as far as investigative journalism goes, the Voice of OC has become the first go-to news outlet in this county.

While I hate seeing this publication shutter, I’m reminded that this is the same publication that celebrated the decline of the Orange County Register under its previous owner and went after the LA Times on a number of occasions with “death watch” columns.  There was also the revenue sharing deal — done through Village Voice ownership — where about 28% of the Weekly’s revenue was derived from BackPage.com which engaged in shady classified advertising practices for person services (Google it).

When OC Weekly was sold in 2016, it was believed the price was around $1 million — or the cost of a mortgage in many parts of the county.  Heck, I’m willing to start a GoFundMe page and ask investors in the County to contact me about saving this publication but to make some fundamental changes that might help it thrive.  But I’d need to see the financials first.

Good luck to the talented journalists out there.  May you land a good job soon.

4 Comments

  1. Stephanie Stephanie December 3, 2019

    Very solid report, Dan. Well done. What’s been interesting to many is how vocal (and quite frankly, unhinged) disgraced former OCW editor Gustavo Arrellano has been in the wake of the announcement, citing mysterious “OC Lords” that “have won” or something or other. He really helped drive that (mediocre at best) paper into the ground and still seems to relish his self-generated “Mexican super hero” complex pitting him against white establishment. He does good writers like Moxley no favors by constantly making it about himself and his petty, race-based outrage.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | December 3, 2019

      Coker is the one I worry about the most

  2. Stephanie Stephanie December 8, 2019

    Dan: I think Coker was good for a time but in the last couple of years that whole staff was “Gustavo’d.” That is to say they all followed his lead of thinly-sourced, deeply personal hit pieces on people that were beyond unfair. Coker was part of that. There is little to no outcry in response to the death of the Weekly. That’s because they were not a “journalistic” outlet anymore like they like to cry, they were really just an angry blog. For “writers” like Gabriel San Roman and a few others, it will be hard to find any real media writing work in my opinion. They just lack legitimate real world skill sets.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | December 12, 2019

      Their “Best of ” Awards were pay for play. Readers might vote for one business but unless you bought that ad, you didn’t get that spiffy certificate for framing. Happened to more than one of my small business friends.

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