Did OC Weekly Just Publish Its Last Issue?

A screengrab of recent OC Weekly covers, taken Nov. 28, 2019, from the alt weekly's website.

After nearly a quarter-century reporting on felonious mayors, scandal-plagued DAs, pedophile priests, neo-Nazis and corrupt business owners, the OC Weekly's future is unclear.

In a Wednesday afternoon tweet, the alt weekly announced it was shutting down: "Today, the day before Thanksgiving, our owner Duncan McIntosh Company has decided to shut us down. For the last quarter century, we've tried to bring good stories to Orange County. It's been fun, but now we're done."

But Duncan McIntosh, the president and publisher of his eponymous company, which mainly puts out boating magazines, tells LAist/KPCC he's in talks to sell the OC Weekly "to a local businessman."

McIntosh did not reveal the identity of the potential buyer, but in the statement he sent to LAist/KPCC, he said: "We hope to have more details after the holiday about the expected change of ownership by a local businessman."

According to Los Angeles magazine, OC Weekly editorial employees found out on Monday that McIntosh was "pulling the plug" but hoping "an eleventh-hour sale might save the paper, the Weekly's staff kept the news under their hats" and didn't publicly share the news until Wednesday.

Around Southern California, many people in the media world are treating the closure as permanent.

Gustavo Arellano, who spent more than 15 years at the alt-weekly including six as editor, says the paper's subversive nature is what makes it special.

"OC Weekly was always rude, not just to conservatives but also to liberals, and that's why as many people loved the OC Weekly as hated it. But the Orange County that we live in today is very much a product of what OC Weekly wanted it to be," Arellano says.

The paper, which had previously been owned by Voice Media Group, was sold to Duncan McIntosh in February 2016. In October 2017, Arellano left OC Weekly after being told he'd have to lay off a sizable chunk of the editorial staff.

Online, journalists paid tribute to the magazine.

Jeff Weiss, former music editor at LA Weekly and editor-in-chief of The LAnd, wrote on Twitter: "In its prime, OC Weekly employed some of the most gifted investigative reporters and culture critics in SoCal. And till the bitter end, they'd been punching far above their weight despite continually dwindling resources. What a loss."

Sarah Bennett, an editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post and managing editor of The LAnd, also mourned the dearth of news outlets in Orange County.

L.A. Taco editor Javier Cabral celebrated OC Weekly as a launching pad for young writers, especially people of color.

In decline for the past decade, alt-weeklies have been especially hard hit these last few years. Chicago's Newcity became a monthly publication in 2017. East Bay Express in Northern California laid off most of its staff earlier this year. The LA Weekly is a shell of itself since its sale to Semanal Media. The grandaddy of alt-weeklies, the Village Voice, stopped publishing in 2018.