Maer Roshan is out at Los Angeles magazine.
The editor-in-chief has been fired after more than four years in the position, during which time he steered a major rebrand of the publication through high-profile, impactful cover stories and articles, while expanding the title’s social media footprint.
Roshan’s departure comes right after massive shifts on the business side. In December, Los Angeles was acquired by power attorneys and corporate executives Mark Geragos and Ben Meiselas through their newly launched Engine Vision Media in a deal that also covered Pasadena Magazines Orange coast magazine. At the time, the pair confirmed they intended to invest in the titles and “provide the resources needed to take them to the next level,” according to Geragos.
The deal was received as a bull’s eye by the company Los Angeles workforce, which had been decimated in recent years amid challenges facing the media industry. (Los Angeles magazine attracted 280,900 unique monthly visitors to its website in February 2023, according to Comscore data, up from the same month a year earlier. By the same statistic, local rivals love the Alt-Weekly brand L.A. weekly saw 974,000 monthly visitors and news site LAist had 843,000 visitors last February.)
After working remotely during the pandemic, Los Angeles staff moved into the Geragos & Geragos offices in January in a former firehouse at 644 S. Figueroa St., known as Engine Co. no. 28 in downtown Los Angeles. They were expected to add staff as the owners looked to expand the digital presence and live events.
Then, less than three weeks ago, Engine Vision Media confirmed that it was well on its way by adding 15 new positions in editorial, digital and sales leading to the hiring of Christopher Gialanella as president and publisher of Los Angeles, Pasadena, Orange Coast And So Cal Design Magazines. An experienced media executive, Gialanella has worked at Modern Luxury for over 20 years in various roles, most recently as a publisher of Riviera, modern luxury Palm Springs And Interior California and before that as a group publisher for Angeleno And Los Angeles Confidential.
THR contacted Geragos and Gialanella and heard nothing before publication. (DeWrap earlier reported Roshan’s exit on Tuesday.)
Roshan, who was reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, called the decision “mystifying,” one he had only learned hours earlier. He believed the new owners were “ecstatic,” buoyed by “the great editorial strides we’ve made in the more than four and a half years I’ve been here.” Roshan helped make the pact with Engine Vision after being tasked by Detroit-based Hour Media, Los Angeles’ previous owners, to help them find new owners.
“If you follow the critical review and the social numbers, we made huge gains,” explains Roshan, citing stories like the Yashar Ali reveal written by Peter Kiefer, a nude cover story featuring supermodel Paulina Porizkova by Benjamin Svetkey, a feature about Brentwood’s place in the culture wars by Max Kutner and the current cover about the murder of a 10-year-old in Antelope Valley by Jason McGahan. (Kiefer and Svetkey are both former THR staffers.) “These are the stories that Los Angeles magazine should be the cover, especially when you consider that five years ago we were known for our Best Parks edition.”
Roshan said many big decisions have been made in recent weeks under the new ownership and there appears to have been “a disagreement” that quickly escalated over a variety of issues, from staffing and wages to the magazine’s leadership.
It is expected that Los Angeles may soon lean more towards celebrity-friendly covers and lifestyle coverage along the lines of Angeleno And Los Angeles Confidential, something that would be in Gialanella’s wheelhouse.
“It wasn’t where I wanted to take this magazine Angeleno. Los Angeles as a city is one of the most powerful and important cities in the world and the magazine that serves that audience and tells the story of this city should reflect that,” Roshan explained. “I feel frustrated because LA magazine was supposed to be one of the biggest magazines in America and we were on our way. For us, it was a great success that we were able to accomplish what we did with next to no money, with eight staff members, with no publicity and no real corporate backing.
According to a source, the remaining staff are in shock. “Most of the people there have been working with Maer for four years and they’re very upset and don’t know what’s coming,” the source says. “However, it’s pretty clear to staff that this is a financial decision in terms of ad revenue. They want more events and more celebrities and they want to make the magazine more commercial.”
While still processing the news, Roshan knows that he is not ready to say goodbye to the media just yet. Roshan’s resume includes high-profile editorial positions for Tina Brown at Conversationbee New York under Kurt Andersen, and as founder or editor (or both) of titles like FourTwoNine, Radar, Radaronline.com, TheFix.com And NYQ. He is written for The New York Times, The New Republic, The Advocate, Details, Harper’s Bazaar And The Hollywood Reporter.
“There are a lot of things I want to do,” he notes of a list of books, podcasts, special projects, digital, and definitely more editor gigs. ‘I’m not worried about myself. I’m more concerned about my staff because they’re great.”