Patterico's Pontifications

1/20/2008

L.A. Times Editor Fired

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:36 pm

James O’Shea, the editor of the L.A. Times, has been fired for refusing to make budget cuts — much like former editor Dean Baquet.

I don’t have strong feelings about this.

When I met Jan Crawford Greenburg, she told me she likes O’Shea, and she urged me to give him a chance. (She worked for him at the Chicago Tribune.)

But the local rap on O’Shea has always been that he is an unimpressive person who was unlikely to shake things up much.

That didn’t bother me much; a lot of people seem unimpressive in person but have some depth to them. (In my more egomaniacal moments I place myself in this category; in more realistic moments I classify myself as strictly unimpressive in all respects. Either way, I’m unlikely to “wow” you when we first meet.)

But the fact is that there is so much wrong with the L.A. Times that it can’t be fixed by any one person — except possibly a historic figure with a clear-eyed view of what’s wrong, and a forceful agenda designed to fix it.

James O’Shea was not that man.

But who is?

Bradley J. Fikes, unlike me, has no sympathy whatsoever for O’Shea.

32 Responses to “L.A. Times Editor Fired”

  1. Could it possibly be that what the Times needs is someone like Norman Chandler?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  2. Bring back the Herald Examiner.

    Vermont Neighbor (c6313b)

  3. Either way, I’m unlikely to “wow” you when we first meet.

    You will never be “just another pretty face” to me, Patterico. ;)

    nk (a07608)

  4. Dont worry th L.A.LIMES will just find a even bigger lair for their birdcage liner

    krazy kagu (1b5cd8)

  5. That’s a pretty candid piece. We’re informed the problems are intractable, the fault lines are widening and the goal to grow new revenue – not cut jobs – is pretty much on life support.

    steve (a0c86f)

  6. But the fact is that there is so much wrong with the L.A. Times that it can’t be fixed by any one person — except possibly a historic figure with a clear-eyed view of what’s wrong, and a forceful agenda designed to fix it.

    Zell isn’t in the habit of putting up with a lot of bullshit, especially in the form of excuses. Expect changes.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  7. I love newspapers. Newspapers are the trendy antique. Buy and display them with pride.

    Vermont Neighbor (c6313b)

  8. Patrick — You impressed me when we met. Of course, I’m the sort of man who’s impressed by normal, solid, competent people. A lot of superficially “impressive” people, on closer inspection, aren’t.

    PrestoPundit (ff5e16)

  9. At a minimum, O’Shea is walking the walk he talked when he arrived. He pledged to not cut too deep and he leaves with his word intact. It seems to me, by L.A. Times standards, the guy is a flippin’ saint.

    Zell put $300 million of his own in this farce of a sale. Does anyone doubt he’ll at least break even if the company’s real property is sold off piecemeal?

    Ed (1f3def)

  10. Believe it or not, The Philadelphia Inquirer has actually increased its circulation slightly, after a local team bought the paper (and it’s tabloid sister, the Daily News) from McClatchy.

    Dana (3e4784)

  11. There is no saving the LA Times until there is a COMPLETE house cleaning starting with the editors and propagandists. If I were editor, I’d fire everyone who’d been there over 300 days.

    Next, I’d bring in the Ken Grubbs, formerly of the OC Register.

    Next, I’d implement “Joe Friday” reporting. Just the facts, and editorializing by the reporter is grounds for immediate termination.

    On the Editorial Page, I’d bring real balance. The Secular Progressives and the Liberal Kool-aid drinkers would be allowed 1 column a week each, but an honest column where they prove their word, not condescend, not lie, and not dictate to the readers.

    Finally, I’d have analysis pages that were real analysis, not partisan cheerleading.

    PCD (f14ddd)

  12. Ouch, Bradley nailed it too.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. #11, PCD, an excellent plan!

    Unfortunately wildly unpopular in the ink-stained halls of Objectivity and Unbiased Reporting where The Agenda supercede such trivialities….

    Heh.

    Dana (f13f1a)

  14. PCD’s cure is too far-reaching, even for me. Fire everyone who has been there more than 300 days and you’d have a wreck, not unlike that taking shape in Santa Barbara at the hands of Wacky Wendy McCaw.

    My advice is to identify those who are actually producing useful reporting, and keep them. Work with the borderline types, and fire the harrumphing propagandists who spew political opinion in guise of news. David Lazarus is borderline – he did good stuff at the SF Chron, but has degenerated at the LAT. He might be salvageable.

    Let me praise one of the Times writers, Tom Petruno. He actually writes about business, and I can’t detect any obvious ideological bias — unlike the disgraced Michael Hiltzik. (I don’t know Petruno and have never met or spoken with him, btw, all I know of him is through his writing).

    And the LAT really ought to hire this guy (again, I don’t know him, but his ability to explain complex business issues is superb).

    Bradley J. Fikes (a18ddc)

  15. Why, friends, don’t you know? Objectivity in journalism is a myth! A real live journalist recently said so, elsewhere. Of course, that person isn’t interested in being objective, but I suppose that has nothing to do with his contention.

    News does not equal propaganda. People “get” that now, thanks for the internet, and that is why newspapers are in trouble, I think.

    Notice that when the New York Times (rightly) tries to bring in a “column left” and “column right” style of editorializing—using Bill Kristol for the latter—they are castigated for “unfairness” by people who aren’t interested in *both* sides of the story!

    Eric Blair (839cfb)

  16. The Times is a member of a declining industry. Peter Drucker used to ask the client the first question. What business are you in ? They need Drucker but it’s too late. Ten years ago maybe he could have helped. Zell probably wants the real estate. A friend of mine and former newspaper publisher commented last week at the very poor advertising volume in the OC Register. The Times should have bought Craig’s List a couple of years ago. Drucker probably would have advised something like that.

    Mike K (693378)

  17. Don’t sell yourself short, Pat.

    I was definitely “wow’d” when I met you at the Ace-o-palooza west event.

    H2U (81b7bd)

  18. Mike K,

    The OC Register deserves they paucity of advertising. After they sacked Ken Grubbs and lurched left, they stopped being an alternative to the LATimes.

    Instead of Grubbs being canned for Chris Knap’s cheerleading for Robert Citron and Knap’s journalistic malpractice in covering the events up to OC’s Bankruptcy, Knap should have been canned.

    Oh, yes, I do have inside knowledge and experience in this. If the OC prosecutor hadn’t been looking for Supervisor scalps instead of getting to the bottom of Citron’s dealings, I would have been called before that Grand Jury.

    PCD (f14ddd)

  19. What business are you in ?

    Yes, it makes a big difference. Consider the difference between an oil company and an energy company.

    Sometimes saving a company starts with changing the answer to that question.

    LarryD (feb78b)

  20. Bradley,

    That article is wrong about Cris Knap. He is a liar and a bad reporter who got run out of Sacramento because of his lack of ethics.

    Jean Pasco, now of the LATimes is no better as she only goes after Republicans with gusto, never a Democrat.

    Now, Bradley, Long before either of the two reports mentions in this article, I sat down quietly with Supervisor Bill Steiner. I told him that the borrowing the county was doing to give Citron more money to invest was flat out wrong. I did warn of the danger if the market turned.

    I will grant that the politicians in Orange County were mesmerized by the high returns on their money.

    What I won’t grant is Tonnie Katz being fair or other than a Kool-aid drinking Liberal. She wanted Grubbs out for the longest time, and she used Grubbs Journalistic ethics and honor against him.

    This incident is why I say the OC Register deserves to be deserted by its readers and advertisers.

    Oh, this isn’t the only time Knap’s bias against Republicans caused him not only to editorialize in his story, but to be dead wrong.

    Knap had a dust up with Hugh Hewitt over his boy Tom Umberg not getting air time on Hugh’s show when Hugh was doing interviews with the GOP candidates for Assembly for the PRIMARIES, not the General election.

    PCD (f14ddd)

  21. PCD,

    I didn’t read the article as defending Knap at all. Take a good look at the last 5 paragraphs.

    “The Register so strongly believes it told the story of the impending bankruptcy that on January 17 Knap wrote a full page article with the headline: “Did Anyone Listen?” blaming everyone but the media for ignoring the warning signs. “The bottom line is,” Knap says, “I laid out that Citron’s strategy was risky and most experts were willing to believe Citron. For Moorlach or anybody else to say the Register didn’t lay out the charges time and time again is wrong. We did.”

    “But Moorlach says it does no good to lay out charges if the press fails to determine whether they are true. It becomes, he says, “a litany without meaning. The press never understood. If they really understood it, why was there no righteous indignation like there is now? Why was Citron a hero and I was a moron? Because they put reporters on the story who didn’t understand it.”

    “A few weeks after the bankruptcy, Moorlach was returning phone calls to the dozens of reporters who were calling for comment. One went to veteran Register reporter Jean Pasco. Knap answered the phone. Moorlach remembers the conversation well.

    ” ‘John,’ Knap said, ‘You’re right, I missed the story.’

    ” ‘Chris,’ I said, ‘not only did you miss it, you missed the Pulitzer Prize. And I tried to help you. But you missed it. Now transfer me to Jean Pasco.’ ”

    Bradley J. Fikes (5f3053)

  22. Begin with decent sportswriters. TJ Simers is the Robert Mapplethorpe of sports ‘journalism’. Get that sick clown off the payroll.

    Jack (a9896a)

  23. Maybe the LA Times should become a government agency. That way they can raise taxes to compensate for their failures…

    Clark Baker (85dbc5)

  24. Anyone involved in publishing that false story of which baseball players’ name was in an affidavit should have been fired already.

    seePea (0d8be4)

  25. Clark, don’t give them any ides. There are a lot of reporters who think the media deserves a subsidy for its “public good” role. These are the entitlement mentality folks who rail against CraigsList for ‘stealing’ advertising that rightfully is the property of newspapers. They really think this way.

    Bradley J. Fikes (5f3053)

  26. Bradley,

    Knap wrote a self-serving piece of CYA. I’m saying so. The paragraphs you point out don’t say what I said in one sentence. I also gave more background than those 5 paragraphs did.

    Bradley, you don’t believe me? Ask Hugh Hewitt, Bob Dornan, and William Steiner. I’ve talked with all 3 about this on and off the radio.

    PCD (9112e7)

  27. Wow. Anybody using Hugh Hewitt and Bob Dornan as sources really does lower the bar.

    Andy (9aade1)

  28. Downsizing of the print media is a fact-of-life. They need to get used to it.
    Just today, the OCRegister announced that their business section is going to be vastly revamped – there go some more newsroom jobs. It is getting to the point that any need for stats will require internet access, the paper will just be display ads and editorial bs.
    And, how do you know that Ken Grubbs would even want to put up with the crap that Michael Ramirez went through? They might say that you’re the boss, but the little s..ts in the newsroom will alway find a way to stab you in the back.

    R.I.P LAT! We knew you when you were somebody.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  29. AD,
    Yes, downsizing is a fact of life. But I think there’s plenty of deadwood that can be cut. The readers wouldn’t miss a thing. And removing the pompous bloviating gasbags would actually improve the average quality of the product.

    And there are areas of new media that can be expanded quickly and cheaply, making better use of the Times’ under-utilized resources. Hugh Hewitt wrote a nice, imaginative piece about what the LA Times should do. If O’Shea had had the sense to listen to him, the LAT would be a lot better off.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  30. 28, Andy, that is witnesses, not sources. You are just more evidence that Liberals have reading comprehension problems.

    PCD (f14ddd)

  31. The key reason that the Times OC bureau and Knap downplayed Citron’s problems is that they saw it as they see everything, through a partisan political lens: ergo, they had to defend Citron, their guy, by downplaying the charges. Which in the case of the Times came from two independent and expert sources, both of which the Times sat on because the facts didn’t fit the preferred narrative.

    Or “storyline,” if you will.

    The funny thing is that newspapers are still good at some things, but instead they keep wanting to emphasize things they can’t compete at: timely news, and opinion. More interesting and more varied opinion is available online, and delivering something in the morning that was frozen five or six hours before isn’t timely. It was, last century… early last century.

    If the newspapers were to develop and use their reporters’ expertise, on specific beats, on local subjects, they’d be indispensable to their communities. They haven’t and so they aren’t.

    Note that the papers that are doing the worst financially, like the LA Times and the New York Times, disdain local coverage and aspire to national status. Witness the LAT’s yawning apathy towards local murders (that don’t happen in white neighborhoods). But their coverage of national subjects is dreadful and often dishonest — witness the NYT’s incredibly pathetic “tripwire veteran” series fabrication, or the recent revelation that Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse has been spinning for her hubby’s law firm, or any aspect of the LA Times’s political reporting.

    Look how many important industry stories in hollyweird and aerospace go completely unremarked by the Times. (These are two major industries in the city, which you probably know if you’re not a Times business reporter). The Times hasn’t even looked into why the commercial space industry has been relocating out of OC and LA counties, and that’s been going on for thirty years! They barely covered the closing of the old Douglas line a couple of years ago, and they completely missed the story there. Apparently there was no partisan political angle to bestir them.

    Kevin R.C. 'Hognose' O'Brien (88bf29)


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