I’m going to answer my own question right away and say “not now,” but last week the 50-year old Boston Phoenix ceased publication after a long history of alt-weekly excellence. The Phoenix’s death is attributable more to changing readers habits instead of excellent journalism and newer formats. A situation our own OC Weekly might also find itself in at some point.
OC Weekly is still good but it’s not the paper it used to be. It’s thinner, leaner, more like half of that excellent sandwich you ordered. Tastes great, but less filling. I’m not in any way suggesting the journalism has changed, only the amount of it.
We asked Managing Editor Gustavo Arellano if the Weekly might be facing the same fate as The Phoenix, and got the typical non-answer answer. I asked about the Weekly’s shrinking size and Arellano answered, “As for size: don’t know if you’ve noticed, but all papers/magazines are thinner than they used to be. We’ve always been known as an outlier in the alt-weekly world–in other words, no one knows how we’ve managed to stay in existence all these years, and our burro continues that long, slow trek…”
When I complained he didn’t really answer the question, Arellano shot back with a, “I did answer the question; if you don’t like burro metaphors, that’s not my problem!” And since Gustavo edits a paper that regularly ran the “OC Register Death Watch” column online, you can insert your own burro joke here.
The Weekly has some things going for it that the Phoenix did not, namely a corporate parent of Voice Media Group which bought the assets of OC Weekly from Village Voice Media last fall. So I anticipate we’ll see some familiar bylines for some time. But still, if a paper as good as the Phoenix can drown, is the Weekly thriving or threading water?
While we’ll chide the Register, an in particular the Register’s opinion pages and select columnists, for being pro-Republican, our interactions with the Weekly a tad different — there aren’t any politicians that get any sort of positive coverage from the Weekly save Bao Nguyen. Loretta Sanchez and Dana Rohrabacher are universally maligned where in our opinion Dana deserves it and Loretta doesn’t. And the Weekly in unashamed in it’s editorial bias against certain political figures. Case in point: Irvine Mayor Steven Choi committed $100,000 in Irvine taxpayer dollars for the reward for the capture and arrest of serial murder Christopher Dorner without consulting the rest of the City Council — a move defended by Council member Christina Shea who told the Daily Pilot Choi didn’t need their approval to act in the capacity Irvine voters elected Choi to perform. Imagine is Larry Agran or Beth Krom had committed $100,000 without anyone’s approval? R. Scott Moxley would have delivered the kittens Jeff Lalloway and Shea would have pushed out of their derrieres while having some kittens himself. The Weekly wrote a fawning story about Choi’s actions.
What makes the Weekly different from other alt-weeklies around the Country is that it’s more of a libertarian than liberal, which might explain how its stuck around OC for this long. We wouldn’t call it liberal by any stretch. Progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann once defined Libertarians as “conservatives who like to smoke pot and patronize prostitutes legally.” Does that sound like Weekly readers to you?