Los Angeles has two fewer print publications on the market.
Emmis Communications Corp., which purchased Los Angeles magazine from Walt Disney Co. in 2000 for an estimated $30 million, has sold its Atlanta, Cincinnati, Orange Coast, and Los Angeles magazines for a mere $6.5 million to Detroit-based Hour Media, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
The buyer publishes five Detroit-area magazines, including the monthly Hour Detroit and Detroit Home, as well as other regional publications around the country.
The latest sale has media watchers pondering whether Hour will change the mission of Los Angeles magazine – one of few remaining outlets for long-form, deep-dive local journalism – as it seeks to make the publication profitable amid a continuing decline in print ad revenue.
Some cite the huge drop in value since 2000 as indication that Hour might be planning changes at the magazine, which has won three National Magazine Awards and a 2016 James Beard Award for food coverage in a general interest publication. Los Angeles magazine has a total circulation of more than 142,000, according to December data from the Alliance for Audited Media.
Monica Lozano, former chief executive of ImpreMedia Operating Co., owner of newspaper La Opinión, called the distribution model for magazines very difficult and very cost-intensive. She added, however, that much would be lost if Los Angeles magazine were to change its mission under a new owner.
“I think it plays a really important role in the future of Los Angeles. It’s long-form journalism. It tells unique stories that bring Los Angeles to life in all of its diversity, from arts and culture to politics and economic issues.”
Kit Rachlis, the magazine’s former editor-in-chief who now serves as senior editor of California Sunday, called the potential loss of Los Angeles’ storytelling, along with the downsizing of the Los Angeles Times’ print edition, a serious problem for the civic life of the city.
Jeff Smulyan, Emmis’ chief executive, announced the company’s intention in August to go public and sell off noncore assets, including its magazine holdings. It sold Texas Monthly in October for $25 million. The Indianapolis-based company owns a variety of regional publications and radio stations, including L.A. hip-hop station KPWR-FM (105.9).
Hour president John Balardo said in an email that Los Angeles magazine nicely complements the company’s portfolio.
“Simply put, it’s an iconic brand in a great market,” Balardo said. “Our core business is regional publishing. With this acquisition, we are now the largest city and regional magazine publisher in the country with well over 100 titles!”
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