A sustained social media campaign against the new owners of LA Weekly has led to a total shutdown of a food and drink event scheduled for next week. The alternative weekly free paper’s annual Sips & Sweets event came under heavy fire from folks on Twitter earlier this week, many of whom called and emailed the vendors and advertisers to successfully lobby them to pull out of the campaign.
*Update: A statement from LA Weekly is below.
Losses quickly racked up for LA Weekly, as more than a dozen restaurants, bartenders, and other vendors from Otium to Angel City Brewery decided to forego Sips & Sweets in the wake of all the backlash. Some active former LA Weekly writers behind the boycott campaign claimed early this morning that the pressure had worked and the event would soon be cancelled, but only this hour did the owners address the cancellation publicly.
In an email sent around to vendors, LA Weekly ownership laid out the news this way (emphasis and grammar their own):
It’s with heavy hearts that we have decided to cancel Sips & Sweets 2017 while we work together as a new team towards realigning LA Weekly with the ideals on which it was founded.
We appreciate all the work you have done in preparation for the event, and quite literally tried EVERYTHING we could as a team to get it done.
We understand the concerns of those offended by recent changes, and we hope you will bare with us as we turn all of our focus onto getting back on track, and making improvements to our beloved paper.
As for what truly is next for one of the city’s most enduring and influential food sections, it’s hard to say. New ownership has yet to make editorial hires and so far remains mostly mum about their purchase on social media, leading to rampant speculation everywhere from Vulture to the pages of the LA Times. As for those boycotting the publication, many would like to see it sold off to a different, as-yet unknown collection of new investors. More on this as it comes.
As for any possible refunds for consumers who have already purchased tickets, that email is presumably coming soon. Meanwhile, LA Weekly sends along the following statement:
Semanal Media Group is committed to preserving free press, and we are currently going through the process of hiring staff who are aligned with the ideals upon which LA Weekly was founded – covering issues that affect communities within Los Angeles, especially underrepresented communities, and even if those issues are controversial or widely criticized.
We understand that the recent acquisition of LA Weekly has had a profound effect on those invested in the publication and the community at large. The recent boycotts reflect the community’s concerns, and we are taking these concerns into account during this transition. We hope everyone will bear with us as we direct our focus to making improvements and working to help this beloved publication reach its full potential. This includes cancelling our Sips & Sweets event next week; we apologize for the inconvenience.
We look forward to fostering LA Weekly's growth into a cultural cornerstone of the city.