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LA Weekly’s Laurie Ochoa ‘s Letter to LA Observed

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LA Weekly EIC Laurie Ochoa’s email to Kevin Roderick:

Kevin,

I know it makes juicier blog posts to tie everything that happens at the LA Weekly to some kind of Mike Lacey conspiracy against the very paper he owns, but Monday’s item about the Weekly’s new office location being Lacey’s revenge on the staff was just silly. He and Jim Larkin trusted longtime publisher Beth Sestanovich to find a new building and she was the driving force behind the move. And while Lacey does sometimes stay on the Westside, I can tell you that the last two times he was in town, he flew into Burbank and didn’t go west of La Cienega.

Now you’ve finished the week by bundling the good fortune of a few of our writers into a narrative that makes it seem as if Jill Stewart is causing some kind of mass exodus. While I hate to see talented journalists leave the paper, one of the things we do well here is assign good writers the kinds of feature stories that get noticed by a large and influential audience. Sometimes this attention leads to job offers and book or movie deals that are hard to resist. Fortunately, I’ve got a growing stack of resumes from excellent journalists around the country who want to work here. And I know from personal experience that leaving the Weekly doesn’t mean you can’t come home again–I’m hopeful we’ll see work in the future from many of the writers who are moving on.

It’s true that, as any editor would, Jill has brought new voices to the paper (Zuma Dogg, for the record, has written just two stories in Jill’s ten months at the paper). But she is also bringing in good stories from some of our veteran freelancers and has reached out for news pieces from staff writers who wouldn’t normally report to her.

One of these writers just left my office amazed at how different the caricature of Jill is from reality. This writer has had a blast working with her. Yes, there have been some disagreements, but I haven’t worked at a place where editors and writers always see eye to eye. For me, the most important thing is that we’re still doing the kinds of stories that reflect the city and can compete in quality with any magazine or newspaper in the country.

By the way, Marc Cooper isn’t going anywhere–his column is in the paper virtually every week and he’s currently hard at work on a cover story for us. We’re fortunate that he is able to travel around the country and bring back original reporting for us on national issues (most recently he was in Iowa covering the presidential campaign).

Thanks for taking notice of our stories as often as you do, but if you’re going to do an item on the internal business of the paper, I’d really appreciate at least a courtesy email to check the facts of your post.

Sincerely,
Laurie Ochoa

PS: Did you see that Ted Kissell, Gustavo and I responded to the Nation article? The letters were finally printed in the issue that came out two weeks ago.
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Roderick tries to swipe FBLA, but swings, misses, nurses sore paw.

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