Los Angeles Times media critic James Rainey opined in a column last week that the recent departure of Weekly editor-in-chief Laurie Ochoa was the latest sign that the alt-weekly had "fallen far from the days it was required reading for those in the know about the city." Rainey attributed much of the decline to "bombastic" news editor Jill Stewart, saying "she pushes story lines that make some sense, with arguments that make very little." In response, Stewart says Rainey didn't bother to contact her for his "take-down attempt column," and that he also failed to mention a Weekly story she helmed that heavily critized Rainey. "I am very sad to see Jim launch a wrong-headed attack on me without disclosing that I assigned and edited a story critical of him in 2007," Stewart writes, while noting the Weekly's recent "hammering" of the Times in award competitions. "Our story about Jim was, in fact, far more extensively reported and much better sourced than his about me."
LA Observed broke the news this week that Jill Stewart had been hired as the news editor at LA Weekly and surmised, "With Stewart around you have to wonder about [LA Weekly Editor Laurie] Ochoa's authority (and how much of her survival under New Times is connected to her marriage to award-winning Weekly food writer Jonathan Gold.)" Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey answers: "Frankly, this is the sort of conspiratorial brilliance I’d expect from someone pushing a shopping cart loaded with all their worldly possessions … Ochoa is my editor." Lacey also praises David Zahniser's investigation of the death of labor leader Miguel Contreras, and savages columnist Harold Meyerson, who resigned from the paper earlier this week after unloading a few parting shots of his own.
Village Voice Media has replaced news editor Alan Mittelstaedt with political columnist Jill Stewart, LAObserved reports. Editor-in-Chief Laurie Ochoa will remain at the helm of Los Angeles' largest alternative weekly, but co-managing editor Tim Ericson has been jettisoned, along with the paper's fact-checking department, a music editor and a layout artist. Ochoa announced the changes in a Wednesday afternoon staff meeting, according to the media-watching blog.
"New Times was a full-throated, outsized voice in a tremendously meek media town," longtime New Times LA columnist Jill Stewart writes in the LA Times. She says New Times is the only alt-weekly chain to "hit the news harder with each passing year" and charges other alties "have become increasingly soft and mired in out-of-touch 1970s-era liberal Democratic mantras."