Chemerinsky plans to invest in Los Angeles alternative weekly newspaper

Legal Education

Erwin Chemerinsky

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law and a columnist for the ABA Journal, has an additional title: media investor.

According to a blog post from LA Weekly, Chemerinsky plans to join a group of investors that bought the alternative newspaper serving Los Angeles, but who hadn’t been revealed before Friday.

Chemerinsky told the Los Angeles Times that he plans to invest because he has “enormous admiration and respect” for Brian Calle, the new operations manager for weekly and another investor. Calle is a former opinion editor for the Southern California News Group

The other investors in Semanal Media include attorneys David Welch and Steve Mehr. Welch is a Los Angeles attorney with a marijuana practice. Mehr, according to the Los Angeles Times, is an attorney for national personal injury law firm Jacoby & Meyers and chief executive of Irvine’s WebShark360, which offers business development services to law firms. Other investors listed are Kevin Xu, who Fast Company says runs a business “specializing in human body regenerative and restoration science”; hotel developer Paul Makarechian of Newport Beach; real estate redeveloper Mike Mugel of Santa Ana; and Andy Bequer, an investor based in Southern California.

The new owners fired 70 percent of the LA Weekly’s staff on Wednesday, according to its former sister publication, the OC Weekly.

Mehr told the Los Angeles Times that the investors want to help give Los Angeles “a cultural scene on par with New York and San Francisco.” Calle’s blog post says the new owners “want to once again see an incredibly relevant, thriving L.A. Weekly.”

The secrecy surrounding the L.A. Weekly’s new ownership raised ire in some circles. The Society of Professional Journalists called the secrecy “appalling and offensive,” an earlier Los Angeles Times story said.

Keith Plocek, who had worked for the Weekly’s former parent company and is now at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, used his login credentials Wednesday to post on LA Weekly’s home page. He called for the new owners to reveal themselves in the wake of the layoffs.

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