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I never quite felt as cool in the seven years I lived in Los Angeles as I did during my stint working at LA Weekly, where I edited copy, wrote for the music blog and helped with calendar listings.
I remember very distinctly being in the office late one evening, reading through restaurant listings, when my mouth hung agape at the perfection of this Jonathan Gold line: “A dish of pork, firm tofu and bamboo shoots, for instance, cut into precise matchsticks and stir-fried in less oil than it would take to lubricate a gnat’s bicycle, tastes of the pure, fresh flavors of its own mild ingredients, nothing more.”
Places like LA Weekly – and CityBeat and OC Weekly – were special precisely because they allowed clueless 22-year-olds to co-exist with some of the best writers in the world. They made space for all kinds of journalists in the same way they made space for all kinds of readers.
But, like LA Weekly and CityBeat before it, the OC Weekly this week announced its future was dire – or perhaps over entirely, it’s not really clear.
If you’re reading a Voice of San Diego newsletter on Thanksgiving weekend, I’m already preaching to the choir, but what else is there to do. The closure of OC Weekly and the ghost publications parading around as LA Weekly and CityBeat aren’t just sad for the nostalgic folks like me who used to work there.
They’re part of a legitimate national crisis. Disruptions to local newsrooms over the last decade have “damaged political and civic life in the United States … leaving many people without access to crucial information about where they live,” the New York Times reported last week, noting a report spelling out the demise of local news.
The report notes that even for the papers that have found a life raft in the form of benevolent billionaires, the future is uncertain: “Each of these newspapers has benefitted from the deep resources its new owners have invested to stem the tide of layoffs, buyouts, and property sales. But it is not clear how reliable or sustainable the ‘benevolent billionaire’ model is.”
I don’t have any big answers or insights except to say that these publications haven’t failed because they weren’t good or important. So it’s worth supporting and investing in the places you still think are good or important while they’re still around.
What VOSD Learned This Week
In a shocking twist that no one could have seen coming, the across-the-board employee raises doled out by San Diego Unified seem to have had a negative impact on the district’s budget.
Meanwhile, SANDAG’s chief economist recently drove home to board members just how dire the TransNet program’s finances truly are.
Over on the other side of the county, Kayla Jimenez checked in with Paul McNamara and the people in Escondido who cheered his surprising win, one year into his mayorship.
What I’m Reading
- This ProPublica and Portland Monthly investigation includes detailed, on-the-record statements from three women who say they were sexually harassed and retaliated against by EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland.
- Whether “the wall” ever actually gets built is basically irrelevant – the Trump administration has effectively built an invisible wall by erecting bureaucratic barriers to legal immigration that are virtually impossible to overcome. (Highline)
- If you are around my age, this is likely the investigation you’ve been waiting for since 11th grade: How Texas Instruments monopolized math class. (Medium)
- Politics nerds, assemble! There are so, so many juicy details about the 2020 presidential field in this story about how President Barack Obama is approaching the Democratic primary.
- This wonderful piece profiles six pioneering black women journalists whose work has largely been forgotten. (New York Review of Books)
Line of the Week
“This fall, as Giuliani has emerged as a central figure in the impeachment inquiry, his clumsy phone comportment has often become worldwide news, adding extra absurd wrinkles to the already absurd saga of a quid pro quo in Ukraine and raising questions about how a chronic butt-dialer who wears his AirPods upside down could be a White House cybersecurity adviser.” – Rudy Giuliani’s texting habits is basically the story Olivia Nuzzi was born to tell