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.