Laguna Beach Independent Sold; LA CityBeat Folds

Laguna Beach Independent city editor Andrea Adelson reports today the company behind 18-month-old Laguna Beach Magazine has agreed in principle to acquire the publication "at a time of financial difficulty for the weekly newspaper." Firebrand Media LLC will consolidate the Indy's operations with other titles and create advertising opportunities with its range of publications, which also includes the village's visitor guide and soon-to-launch Newport Beach Magazine and an in-house magazine for Monarch Beach's St. Regis resort, Firebrand board chairman Allan Simon says in the piece.

"Although I am relatively new to Laguna Beach, my desire to invest myself and my resources here reflects a commitment to maintaining the unique character of the city, while at the same time, making it a welcoming place for small businesses like The Independent, which serve the community," Simon said.

The Indy's founding publisher, Stu Saffer, and largest shareholder, Mallory McCamant, will no longer be involved once the deal concludes, expected sometime next month. Saffer in 2002 had arranged the sale of the weekly Coastline News, now known as the Coastline Pilot, to the Los Angeles Times. But he quit the paper over a dispute with the new owners and, he says at the urging of local residents, started Laguna Beach Independent. Saffer tells Adelson he was not consulted about Firebrand's acquisition and does not know what he'll do next. 

Adelson, arts editor Suzie Harrison and advertising director Christopher Castro will stay on.

Fifty miles away in Los Angeles, what had become a new publishing home for several former OC Weekly writers and editors has folded. After a six-year run, the last issue of alternative weekly Los Angeles CityBeat was published Thursday, informs Southland Publishing president Bruce Bolkin in a letter posted on LA Observed. Southland will continue publishing Pasadena Weekly, Ventura County Reporter, San Diego CityBeat, Inland Empire Weekly and the monthly magazines Life After50, Ventana and Arroyo, Bolkin says.

Among the former OC Weekly staffers to pass through LA CityBeat (off the top of my head): Will Swaim, Rebecca Schoenkopf, Steve Lowery, Chris Ziegler and Tom Child. Swaim, OC Weekly's founding editor and later publisher, had become CityBeat's publisher on Nov. 10.



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