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The scoop on RealTALK LA

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Rumors are flying about the future of L.A. Weekly founder Jay Levin’s latest venture, RealTALK LA. Kevin Roderick of LAObserved posted Friday that the new magazine may be folding due to the inability to make payroll. Today, he posted a note from Levin’s executive assistant refuting the payroll claim saying, “It is true that we are re-organizing even while we prepare our next issue and will have more to report at a later date.” No indication of the time-frame or effect of the reorganization.

In preview of the magazine and its website, Levin rolled out an unprecedented ad campaign. It’s been impossible these last few months to go anywhere in the city without encountering a RealTALK LA bus stop or billboard ad. The first issue – May – came out a week late. The editorial content follows through on the mission set out in the magazine’s press kit: “An innovative focus on the diversity and creativity of the region’s ‘peoplescape,’” including focused coverage of LA’s Latino, Asian-American and African-American communities.

RealTALK's potential success or failure will say a lot about the current media landscape. It is a noble cause to employ multiculturalism/ethnic diversity as a central theme, but the danger lies in coming off as too sincere, too effortful - especially in 2007, when irony, sarcasm and irreverence reign supreme.

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As someone who works for a small, local magazine, I wish success for RealTALK as an additional voice in regional media. But I also was touched by some of Levin's remarks in his founder's letter, printed on page one of the premiere issue. In that letter, Levin states his determination to "reinvent the regional magazine" and to "fill what we perceive as an immense intimacy gap in the public space called media." In short, Levin intended RealTALK as a bridge between the people and the media that are supposed to represent them. That's a hefty intention, but one justly served by the mere acknowledgment of the widening chasm between the media and their readers.

We'll know more come June 1, when issue #2 is due to hit stands.

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