The LA Weekly is making some big edits. The alternative weekly will name a new editor-in-chief in the coming weeks, around the time it unveils a revamped website designed to accommodate the ongoing shift of readers from print to digital.
“There’s no question that that’s a lot of change,” said Andy Van De Voorde, executive associate editor at the Weekly’s parent company, Voice Media Group of Denver. “In this business, you just have to keep reloading.”
The reloading will include replacing Editor Sarah Fenske, who told staff earlier this month that, as part of a family move, she will be leaving to take a job as digital director at a magazine in St. Louis next month.
The search for her replacement comes as the Weekly prepares to roll out its new Web design, which will be designed to be better suited for mobile scrolling and social media sharing.
The expectation is that new Web content and a more up-to-date layout will further boost the Weekly’s online traffic. The layout will let readers scroll down the page to read a long story rather than clicking through to multiple pages and will be less cluttered. It will also automatically format to fit a given reader’s screen, whether on a desktop or a smartphone.
Rick Edmonds, a newspaper business analyst at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., said it’s necessary for outlets to plan for a mobile future, employing event recommendations and similarly short, list-y content meant to drive traffic.
“That’s the type of content that people will access by mobile phone,” Edmonds said.
The changes at the Weekly come as it tries to navigate a shifting landscape that has seen print ad spending drop industrywide. The Weekly is still profitable, Fenske said, with the print edition generating about 75 percent of its revenue. The balance comes from its website.
“What’s important to us is making sure that our digital identity is well taken care of and we’re prepared for the future,” said Darrick Rainey, creative director at the Weekly, who led the team of Voice Media developers that built the new layout.
As part of that evolving identity, the staffer responsible for putting together listings of cultural events for the paper was let go and will not be replaced. In his stead, the Weekly is replacing the listings with a Web-focused feature that will give 10 brief tips for what to do every day around town, Van De Voorde said. Some of those items will make it into the paper.
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