Los Angeles may be the land of make-believe, but the journalism coming out of the City of Angels is anything but fake. The latest issue of Alta, due to hit newsstands next week, features a cover story that examines the past, present, and future of the 137-year-old Los Angeles Times. Alta contributor Mark Potts examines the paper’s storied past and the ambitions that biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, who purchased it just over a year ago, has for its future.
Soon-Shiong is one of a handful of white knight billionaires who’ve stepped in to buy money-draining legacy publications: Jeff Bezos with the Washington Post, John Henry with the Boston Globe, and Marc Benioff with Time, to name a few. But while traditional media, in general, is in free fall, Soon-Shiong’s entry into the Southern California market comes at a particularly exciting and vibrant moment.
Look at the LAnd, a print magazine produced by writers and editors who were fired by the new owners of the L.A. Weekly. Formed to compete with the revamped alt-weekly, the LAnd aims to provide coverage “for locals, by locals.” And while the Weekly has been mired in lawsuits, the team from the LAnd is printing long-form journalism. (Trust us. This is no easy feat.)
Or check out L.A. Taco, a 13-year-old blog that’s transformed itself into a serious (and entertaining) news outlet. Former L.A. Weekly reporter Daniel Hernandez joined as editor in 2017, and the site has been on a roll. L.A. Taco has a distinct voice, and it provides a street-level view of stories that often don’t get told. This piece on Hood Herbalism, a project that teaches indigenous medicine practices to communities of color, is a great example.
L.A. Taco has grown to be counted among SoCal media’s heavy hitters. On April 13, Hernandez will join Alta publisher Will Hearst, Los Angeles Times editor Norman Pearlstine, and Christa Scharfenberg, CEO of the Center for Investigative Reporting, for a Los Angeles Times Festival of Bookspanel discussion titled “Print Journalism: Where Do We Go from Here?”
LALA, another newcomer, was included among Laurel Canyon News owner Desiree Levine’s picks for the five best magazines for Southern California readers. The stylish two-year-old quarterly leans heavily into L.A.’s creative scenes.
With old dogs learning new tricks and new dogs, well, joining the pack, an upswing in exciting, groundbreaking, and vital reporting is taking place in Los Angeles. Things are looking up, readers. Things are looking up.
This article appeared in the March 28, 2019 Alta newsletter with a different headline. Our weekly Thursday email includes the latest from Alta magazine and AltaOnline, the best in West Coast writing from around the web, and a collection of upcoming author events, panels, and discussions with Alta and our partners throughout the state. Subscribe for free!