Update 12:30pm Friday | A final issue will be published by The District Weekly, according to the defunct publication's Facebook and Twitter pages. It will be released next Wednesday, March 24th. Click here to read LBPOST.com columnist Keith Higginbotham as he remembers The District Weekly.
3:00pm Wednesday | After news broke this morning that Long Beach alternative magazine The District Weekly would fold, former editor-in-chief Ellen Griley spoke with the LBPOST.com and reflected on the publication.
“It’s been the best job anyone could ever have, and the best team anyone could ever have,” she said. “I just know that I’m proud of it. Every single thing we did.”
“Certainly, ad revenue wasn’t where it needed to be,” said Griley, in an attempt to explain the publication’s descent. “But there’s really no person to blame or one thing to blame. Because part of me thinks, in a way, the City wasn’t ready for a paper like this.”
The District Weekly was known throughout Long Beach for its no-holds-barred investigative reports into politics and development, as well as a creative and witty style of writing that fit the traditional alt-weekly mold. Its reporters also had a firm grasp on the local entertainment and nightlife scene, also drawing praise for detailed profiles and fascinating features.
My personal favorite? A detailed look into why sections of the city have physically sunk over the decades due to underground oil drilling.
The publication’s final issue hit stands last week and will not publish a farewell issue.
Griley joined the staff of the OC Weekly in 2003 and was part of the large group that left to start the District in 2007. She said that she actually planned on leaving the District at the end of March to pursue other career goals, and had finally become comfortable with the idea of handing it off to a successor.
“I certainly always thought – even in the face of evidence that was completely to the contrary – I always thought that my last issue would be March 31 and then the following week I would walk out and see the District edited by someone else,” Griley said. “And I was really excited for that! And I was really excited to see what a new editor could do with it, but it’s just the right decision and it’s the right time to close. As sad as it is, it’s what needed to be done.”
Griley said that the fate of publication’s popular website, TheDistrictWeekly.com, lies in the hands of Seven Days Publishing, LLC. The company was founded by former District publisher Will Swaim, and his wife Heather Swaim serves as president. She did not immediately return a phone message.
The debut issue in April 2007 featured an almost sinister photo of strip club owner Jerry Westlund covered in tomatoes, while a smiling lawn-bowling senior draped in white graces the final issue.
“I find it ultimately hilarious that our first issue was Jerry Westlund painted with tomatoes thrown at him,” said Griley, “And then our last issue is this beautiful, angelic old woman.”
Over the phone, she erupts in laughter.
The one thing you could always say about The District Weekly was that it had character.