Earlier this week, the USC student-run online publication Neon Tommy published a profile of LA Weekly editor Drex Heikes. The story was not unflattering, and I was impressed by Heikes’ candor about many of the issues facing the paper. He openly acknowledged how grim things had become:
“Sometime in the winter, spring, it bottomed out,” Heikes said gravely from his new desk at the Weekly‘s Culver City headquarters. “I wasn’t here, but from what I understand, there were sparks on the pavement. The shocks were gone. There was just nothing left.”
Of course Heikes is cocksure he can turn the place around. His assessment is ballsy and honest, and who wouldn’t appreciate that? Well, LA Weekly staffer Dennis Romero, for one. Today he wrote a blog post titled, “For The Record: Setting Things Straight Regarding Neon Tommy Report On LA Weekly.” And to be fair, the Neon Tommy story contained a glaring factual error. It reported an editorial staff of six, when it is in fact about three times that. But Romero is more eager to contradict his editor’s acknowledgment of problems at the paper – or to blame them on the former staff.
Tommy’s gives some ink to the notion espoused by the Weekly‘s critics — mostly former employees — that the paper has seen better days and is need of rescuing or, in the parlance of the Neon ones, that it needs saving — a “Herculean task.”
(The headline of the Neon Tommy story was “Heikes’ Herculean Task: Save The L.A. Weekly.”)
Herculean is not the word. Once we dust off the notepads that were rarely used by some of the Weekly‘s columnists of yesterday, it’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel.
His attacks on the pre-New Times LA Weekly come in unbelievably broad strokes that are not only unfair but inaccurate. For every desk-bound opinion columnist like Harold Meyerson, there was a hard-hitting reporter like David Zahniser whose notebook was never, ever dusty.
As one of the former staffers being slammed indiscriminately by Romero, I’m admittedly a little peeved. I’m gonna take a walk around the block, punch a wall, listen to some Joan Jett – but I’ll be back. And I’ve got a few things to say.