Patterico's Pontifications

7/2/2008

Bloodbath Looms at L.A. Times

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:29 pm



They’re cutting 150 editorial staff positions by Labor Day. As usual, Kevin Roderick has the internal memos.

And as always, I see these changes as resulting primarily from the challenge posed by the Internet, and not from a loss of readership due to bias. I ask commenters not to gloat. Some good people will lose their livelihoods, and that’s not a reason to celebrate.

29 Responses to “Bloodbath Looms at L.A. Times”

  1. I want to subscribe to the Times. Really. It’s just the way the little editorial statements are dropped into A1 news articles – usually in the first sentence or sub-hed that drive me crazy.

    I look forward to a reformantion and hope for there to be an LA Times for a long time.

    TakeFive (7c6fd5)

  2. If you open LAT homepage, an opportunity to take their reader survey pops up. Its sort of hokey in places (‘do you think we’re hip, sophisticated, exciting’…) But it does give people who hope the paper better finds its better self an opportunity to have a voice. In light of the impending losses, I hope they take concerns seriously.

    My hub is in the industry and he has laid off a number of employees in his departments over the past three months, with more to come. It appears to be a toss up of internet competition/numerous media outlets and a lack of advertisers. Its just a very bad time for print media.

    Dana (a61bbb)

  3. But isn’t one of the primary reasons for the internet becoming a viable alternative is precisely because one can find unbiased information? Granted, they can also find biased ones as well, but the reader knows full well what kinds of biases are on display, rather than information being presented in an allegedly “objective” manner.

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to conclude that the LAT’s lack of transparency is one of the reasons (there are others, of course) why they’re failing as a business model today.

    Dmac (ea35f7)

  4. While they are losing subscribers due to the Internet and not bias, there might be some hope that DROPPING bias might reverse the trend.

    Certainly no one is subscribing to get more bias.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  5. Regarding Dana’s point – that is doubtless true regarding the news information outlets that use print as a primary medium, but as for other companies that use print for other venues (fashion, enthusiast titles, etc.), their revenues are currently stagnant or slightly down from prior years. Companies like Rodale, Conde Nast and Hearst are still holding their own, while Time Inc. is sinking like a rock.

    Dmac (ea35f7)

  6. Yes to Kevin. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see if a Fair & Balanced newspaper might be profitable? Worked for FoxNews.

    They’d be a one-of-a-kind. I’d enjoy mornings with coffee & paper (again).

    ManlyDad (75cbfe)

  7. They’re cutting 150 editorial staff positions

    They have 150 editors? Who knew?

    capitano (03e5ec)

  8. It’s a shame.

    As I said to you last month, Patterico, I think they’ve been improving somewhat and are become better written and more relevant–even if the crippling bias is still there.

    See-Dubya (d75aff)

  9. You know what I saw today? The LAT has an article headlined something like “US Spying on Iraqi Army.”

    Amazing. YES, YOU STUPID LIBERAL IDIOTS. We are “spying” on the Iraqi Army. It’s one of the most important institutions in that country, and we’d prefer that it isn’t overrun by sectarians and terror-sympathizers. We send out American troops in joint operations with Iraqi soldiers–if they are disloyal, we could have American troops kidnapped or killed. If the Iraqi Army doesn’t do its job, terrorists roam free, American soldiers die, civilians die, the political situation is made worse, and therefore it takes us longer to win and go home. NO FUCKING SHIT we’re spying on them.

    I just hope the LAT didn’t blow any actual state secrets. We already know which side the LAT is on.

    That’s the quality of reporting from the LAT. If the LAT wasn’t so focused on bashing Israel and bashing Bush, it might have more Jewish and Republican readers–and might not be going bankrupt. Its editors decided they would rather be a marginal paper than a real national paper. Now they are paying the obvious price.

    Too bad about the low-level employees paying the price for their bosses’ incompetence. But that’s how it is in big business. Doesn’t the LAT report that corporate execs get giant bonus packages even when the companies are carrying out layoffs? I wonder if the LAT will report its own management’s bonuses this year.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  10. While I was never a subscriber to the LA Times, I dropped my subscription to the Oregonian more than three years ago (after being a faithful reader for more than fifty years) because I no longer trusted their news articles. There were far too many editorials that were presented as news stories. I would love to find a trustworthy newspaper that covered my area, but as near as I can tell it doesn’t exist. And it is not that I’m criticizing their editorial positions, only their news coverage. If they would go back to just reporting the news in the news sections, and let me form my own opinions as to what it means I would be happy to again subscribe.

    After dropping my Oregonian subscription I started checking out other newspapers online. The sad fact is that all I have checked have the same failing. They are unwilling to simply present facts. Instead, they all seem to feel that their readers are incapable of deciding what a news story means and that it is their duty to tell us what to think about it.

    I, for one, am not happy over the declining fortunes of the newspaper industry. We have need of a good news industry, but we don’t have one. What we do appear to have is a bunch of reporters and editors who feel their opinion is more important than any facts, and who are willing to distort and shade what they report to make it agree with their own agenda. I am perfectly happy to go to the op-ed pages and read what their opinions are, but I should not be reading their opinions on page one and being presented as unbiased news. For the most part, the newspaper industry has tuned into a bunch of spin doctors, and my opinion of spin doctors is even lower than my opinion of politicians.

    Fritz (44e0f9)

  11. Frit writes that he dropped the LA Times “because I no longer trusted their news articles”. I dropped the Omaha World Herald for the same reason — the more I moved up in my profession in the business community, the more I’d encounter local news stories I new first hand were wrong.

    Usually, it was just outright sloppy reporting. I learned first hand through several experiences that the reporters suffered from creative memory reconstruction. But between incompetence in local news coverage and a slanted editorial bias, my wife and I found that we were only subscribing for a few wire stories, some sports scores, and the coupons and funnies for the kids. Once you realize that’s all available online, there’s no need for the paper. Better yet, I miss out on at least one rant a week by not reading unethical and/or incompetent journalism.

    Newspaper subscribers have historically been a bit more intelligent and educated, and to have ignored their desire for objective reporting and cram sloppy, politically biased work with an environmentalist, anti-business leftist slant was a poor strategy. Now many of the paper’s staff are getting their wish in not having “stupid hicks and rednecks” reading their paper anymore. Unfortunately, the same advanced degree executive hicks and rednecks paid their salaries through subscriptions.

    redherkey (9f5961)

  12. The Omaha World-Herald’s “slanted editorial bias” was the lament of Nebraska Democrats. The paper went well beyond a typical endorsement supporting one of their ex-reporters as a U.S. Senate candidate.

    steve (4c3ec1)

  13. There are far too many villains in this play for me to have much sympathy.

    The primary villain(s) are those who overpaid for the enterprise and now have an impossible debt load. Think an unscrupulous mortgage holder who is now upside down. Tough *excrement*. I hope you lie in the smelly mess you created.

    The unbridled editorial arrogance of the LAT is breathtaking. Think ENRON.

    I ask, how many layers of editorial does it take to admit a factual error? How many community meetings with publishers are necessary before LAT agendas are acknowledged?

    If one wants forgiveness and understanding from me, one must first own up to shortcomings. YMMV.

    Ed (6058ab)

  14. My brother used to work of for the Orange County Register, and he still has a lot of friends in the newspaper business in the LA area. It is sad to see a once great institution get hurt like that.

    tyree (8971e1)

  15. The hell with that. I’ll light off some special LA Times fireworks on the 4th as part of my own celebration. The best thing for everybody is for these folks to do something they are good at which actually creates value for others, and whatever that might be that certainly isn’t what they are producing right now cranking out the god awful LA Times.

    Think of it this way. We should celebrate the fact that people are being removed from jobs they aren’t good at, and they are being forced into another job that actually creates value for other people.

    And I actually do think that if these people had the competence to produce an accurate quality newspaper that many fewer of them would be on the street looking for work.

    PrestoPundit (ff5e16)

  16. I have to disagree with Patterico.
    Bias and the shenanigans of upper management will always result in the loss of jobs. Usually the minions that have tried to keep work coming in.
    I have seen this over and over through the years.
    Also it is important to note that the L.A. Times is not the only biased news media on the ropes.
    Let me see, L.A. Times cutting staff etc; Limbaugh signs for 400 Million. Hmmm.

    Paul Albers (0c58f4)

  17. The bloodbath was long over due at the LATimes. Too bad they got their more Conservative voices out the door first.

    I hear your pain on the Omaha “Weird Harold”. It was a sick joke when I lived there from 88 to 90.

    Tyree, the OCRegister has gone down hill since Ken Grubbs was forced out after the OC Bankruptcy fiasco with the journalistic malpractice of reporter Cris Knap. The OCRegister moved from Druggie Libertarian to Druggie Liberal.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  18. Patterico, I disagree with you. I grew up with the L.A. Times, and when I visit L.A. now and try to read it, I find it unbearable. That paper can’t go belly up soon enough, IMHO. Fine writers will always get work. If not, well join the rest of us facing the possibility of layoffs every year and often twice a year.

    Put out an excellent product or suffer the consequences.

    Peg C. (b50956)

  19. After writing distorted stories for the last seven years about the Bush economy, it seems like self-fulfilling for the LA Times. Just deserts!

    Mark Twain said those that don’t read the paper are uninformed and those that do are misinformed.

    I still read it but it requires a tonic: PATTERICO.

    Alta Bob (e43e07)

  20. If there are that many good people being sacked, why is the rag so utterly biased and unfact-checked?

    laddy (dd803f)

  21. The Los Angeles Times chose to fall on its pen way back when Shelby Coffey III was made Editor-in-Chief. As an article from Salon.com remarks about Coffey’s resignation from the Times in the late ’90’s:

    “SC3, in contrast, is the quintessential guilty white male: insular, kindhearted, cluelessly patronizing, endlessly infuriating. And so, during his eight-year tenure, was the Los Angeles Times.

    That just about sums up all of the Times management since the 1970’s. It’s not the Internet that is causing the Times extinction, but their own inbreeding and sterility.

    C. Norris (52254c)

  22. Their reporting devolved into a patronizing dishonest mess. The Times will say it’s about the internet, but corruption ruined them. Just look at the Pellicano reporting. A hideous corrupt display.

    BF (f77f86)

  23. It’s not the editorializing in news stories that bothers me, it’s the lack of coverage for local stories that other national papers get.

    The NYT magazine had a big story on the comeback attempt of Olympic swimmer, 41 year old Daria Torres. SHE LIVES HERE. The LAT should have owned that story, had a blog about her, video updates, the whole thing. WTF?

    Also, the entertainment coverage is dreadful. The paper recently ran an editorial about the Universal fire–things looked good! They might as well be living in Duluth.

    Kate (cd6f2a)

  24. @c.norris–isn’t that the late, great Cathy Seipp on Shelby?

    Kate (cd6f2a)

  25. @c.norris–isn’t that the late, great Cathy Seipp on Shelby?

    Yes. She could make it hurt so good.

    C. Norris (f1ec7f)

  26. This is creative destruction. Maybe soon we will have a paper that, for instance, considers it silly and insulting to use everything from movie reviews to front page news as a pretext to excoriate Western civilization and America, and just us the facts.

    AS for falling revenues, Internet, shminternet–it’s the bias. All those pony-tailed greybeards are relics of the past. As Manlydad says, it’s time to try something new, ala Fox News. The present team would not know what to do, even if they agreed to do it, though.

    Maybe it’s time to replay yet again Patrick’s post asking for comments about why we left the LAT. Maybe at least Zell is noticing.

    Patricia (f56a97)

  27. One awful thing about the demise of newspapers is how they are all converging on looking like news.google.com. The same articles in the same order.

    Investigative journalism is important to the country.

    Wesson (785f2a)

  28. The tree of liberty must be refreashed from time to time with the blood of asshole journalists…

    TJ (c10d03)

  29. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see if a Fair & Balanced newspaper might be profitable? Worked for FoxNews.

    FYI, I’m not a lefty or anything, but come on: Fox News is neither fair nor balanced. They’re the Keith Olbermann of the right.

    Amy Alkon (262cdf)


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