The owners of LA Weekly have bought San Francisco’s Marina Times, the publishers announced Tuesday.
Street Media, which publishes LA Weekly and Irvine Weekly, will take over ownership from publisher Earl Adkins and Editor-in-Chief Susan Dyer Reynolds for an undisclosed sum and rename the paper the Bay Area Marina Times. The company also bought the iconic but shuttered Village Voice in New York City, expanding its reach outside of California.
The 36-year-old Marina Times will continue to be printed monthly, but Brian Calle, CEO and publisher of LA Weekly, plans to expand its digital footprint and add a neighborhood directory. He also plans to continue selling ads on behalf of clients for other publications, including the San Francisco Examiner and SF Weekly, which announced new ownership last week.
“It’s a hyperlocal site that’s well run,” Calle said. “It’s in a position financially where it’s not facing some of the same challenges others face in the industry. I was super impressed with the investigative reporting.”
While the paper is hyperlocal, it has occasionally had citywide reach on some stories, writing about the corruption allegations against Department of Public Works head Mohammed Nuru before federal authorities arrested him in January.
The Marina Times is also known for harsh rhetoric on issues such as homelessness and politics that has at times drawn the ire of progressives. Supervisors Dean Preston and Hillary Ronen even sought to steer The City’s advertising dollars away from it earlier this month, but backed down after the move sparked concerns over First Amendment rights.
The Twitter page, run by Reynolds, also drew controversy in November 2019 when it attacked the new approach to food coverage by the San Francisco Chronicle’s restaurant critic, Soleil Ho.
When asked whether Reynolds would continue operating the account, Calle said conversations on Twitter “lack context” and called the platform bad for public discourse.
“Certainly, under my watch, there would be a very judicious approach to how we approach using Twitter,” Calle said. “What exactly we do with Twitter is TBD.”
Reynolds said on Twitter that Adkins seeks retirement but the new owners want her to stay and keep the current team. Calle said he has no immediate plans to change the staff.
“They plan to put money into it — particularly the website — and reach a broader audience,” Reynolds wrote. “Any time a large publisher takes an interest in strengthening a print publication — especially small monthlies and alt weeklies — it’s good for independent journalism and good for the cities.”
But the last media takeover Calle was part of was intensely criticized.
Calle’s 2017 co-purchase of LA Weekly with other investors under Semanal Media, a company with conservative links, led to the gutting of the editorial staff and sparked a revolt during a turbulent time for Los Angeles journalism. A then-co-owner of LA Weekly, David Welch, also sued Calle and other owners for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty over decisions regarding staff and alleged favorable coverage of a company where Calle worked. A confidential settlement was reached in 2019, LA Business Journal reported.
“I had to do that to save LA Weekly,” Calle said. “I’m fine with criticism, I accept that and learn from it. Labeling me a conservative is a bit a stretch and may be semantics at this point.”
Former staffers launched an advertising boycott, and even went on to launch a new publication TheLAnd Magazine. Some are now encouraging New York to do the same. The announcement of Calle’s new purchase had them once again call out his ties to right-wing think tank Claremont Institute and his role as conservative opinion editor at the Orange County Register.
“Nothing like the most vaunted counter-cultural publication in America bought by the former head of the Claremont Institute, the West Coast’s preeminent right-wing ghoul factory,” tweeted former LA Weekly staffer Jeff Weiss in response to the Village Voice purchase. “This is a laughable disgrace.”