Patterico's Pontifications


Is the Los Angeles Times Committing Suicide?

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:59 am

Careful when you click on those L.A. Times links these days. You get only 15 stories a month, and then they’ll charge you.

John Seiler says they’re trying to commit suicide. The L.A. Times would likely point to the Wall Street Journal as an example of a publication that has successfully gone to a pay model. Here’s the problem as Seiler sees it:

The Journal’s model is succeeding because the Journal offers more than basic news: It offers specialty news, on finances. People will pay money to make money. The’ll also pay money for other specialty news, such as dating and game sites. That model also is working for the Financial Times, which specializes in international business news.

If you’re a bond trader making well into the six figures a year, paying for an FT or Journal subscription is chump change. It provides crucial information you use for your business. Those publications also provide large research files for checking out potential businesses to invest in. But that model doesn’t work for publications that provide news one can get elsewhere.

As to the New York Times, it lost $40 million last year. So why imitate their business model?

There is another problem: the Journal is just a better paper. I know someone who no longer subscribes to the Times, because it infuriates him, while he does subscribe to the Journal, because it’s a good paper and he likes it.

That person is me.

I am far from the only one to have dumped his L.A. Times subscription in recent years, by the way. Seiler has this eye-opening graph. The yellow line represents the L.A. Times‘s plummeting subscription base over time:


And this gets us into the reason people start dumping their subscriptions. I agree with Seiler that part of the problem is that the business model is changing. Kids don’t subscribe to newspapers; people generally seem to think they are entitled to news for free. Seiler also points to the paper’s liberal bias, which I personally don’t think is the reason for their financial problems — but which certainly does alienate the few conservatives in Los Angeles, and which also gives me the chance to piggyback a fine rant onto one of Seiler’s:

And as my colleague Steven Greenhut wrote today, columnist Michael Hiltzik has defended the possibly criminal fraud eco-extremist Peter Gleick perpetrated against the Heartland Institute. Gleick himself has apologized. Yet Hiltzik wrote: “But it’s Heartland, which has tagged Gleick with the epithets above, that should be answering for its nearly three-decade history of corporate shilldom.”

So, Hiltzik says it’s OK for Gleick to perpetuate a fraud. And the Los Angeles Times employes Hiltzik. So why should I believe anything written in the Times?

It’s worse than that, Mr Seiler.  In the past, Hiltzik has actually perpetrated a fraud on the public and his readers himself,  praising himself under false “sock puppet” names.  (In fact, this was revealed by a blogger whose name eludes me for the moment — people tell me he used to be pretty good.) And when the revelation went public, Hiltzik lost his business column, and the editor explained that employing a false name in the manner Hiltzik did was deceptive and could not be tolerated. A great message, except . . .

. . . except that Hiltzik now has that very same column back. In other words, deception is back in style at the Los Angeles Times. And Hiltzik is using his column to promote deceit like Gleick’s — because this particular form of deceit serves his ultra-partisan leftist agenda.

Mmm, that’s quality journalism! Where can I sign up to pay for that kind of reading experience?

It remains to be seen whether the Times is committing suicide. If so, I say more power to them. I like some of the people there, but the institution?

I want it dead.

Thanks to elissa.

26 Responses to “Is the Los Angeles Times Committing Suicide?”

  1. Ding! (Or more acurately, dingdingding!)

    Was not summoned for jury duty today. Sockpuppets later.

    Karl (6f7ecd)

  2. This is what is called ‘the Carbonite maneuver,’ yes I ripped up a trek episode, on we can just call it a lesson in ‘more selective audiences’

    narciso (87e966)

  3. I just said in another thread that the bias may actually help the LA Times, by catering to lefties who fear leaving their bubble.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (878217)

  4. ” … this was revealed by a blogger whose name eludes me for the moment — people tell me he used to be pretty good.

    Oh, indeed. He was great.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  5. the obama years have been disastrous for the obamawhore media – and if he’s reelected you can bet the LA Times won’t be pointing to the Wall Street Journal as a model

    they’re already eyeing the National Soros Radio model I bet where taxpayers will pay them to regurgitate obamawhore propaganda – kind of like how the piggy piggy illiterate union whores at General Motors get subsidized to make crappy cars

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  6. What he hell is wrong with Zell? He’s proven that he knows how to make money. Why is he feeding a mistake?

    nk (dec503)

  7. We just recently cancelled our subscription, but because we’re moving, not out of disgust. Even though the LAT does often disgust me, I still paid for it because I couldn’t stand the thought of more people losing jobs.
    Now my hand has been forced. I hope the LAT thinks I was sending a message.

    MayBee (081489)

  8. I takes quite a bit of devotion to The Cause to become a Hiltzik. His apparent purpose is to share information accurately, but he’s so invested in the fight that he thinks he should do that by promoting and engaging in deception.

    The graph is amazing. At some point you’d think someone would drastically change things. All these papers should take a look at the Wall Street Journal, which is simply a more quality product. Or they can justify their failure like Generals justify sending soldiers into battle.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  9. If you clear your cookies or use a different browser, you can get 15 additional articles. It seems to work for Chrome at least. I haven’t tried it for firefox.

    I’m using private browsing, which also apparently gets me another 15 articles. Or possibly free for life?

    “You’re quite the reader, so don’t stop now” – LAT after your monthly quota is up. Oh, to live in an age where reading 15 newspaper articles a month qualifies you as “quite the reader”.

    lee (cae7a3)

  10. Hubs and I have “saved” our local paper in breakfast table discussions to now avail *that is, though of ways they could adapt their business model to encourage subscription or increase revenue.(

    That paper, now about to sell out to some sucker, seemed to be in a very deliberate death-spiral. It kept doing everything possible to reduce circulation, cut off its traditional audience without appealing to a new one, or to cultivate a specialty audience, and became absolutely worthless. Those with the hard copy at the end of the drive might use it to soak up spills in the kitchen and so forth.

    I guess it’s sort of how I need a tooth out and I know the longer I delay the more my lovely jawbone will dissolve but I just can’t stand the idea of losing the way my mouth used to be. I could save myself but the changes cannot be borne. Only newspapers have more effective denial coping strategies.
    Implants are scary and expensive and in the meantime I’ll have to use a snap on smile like Makenzie on Toddlers and Tiaras. I’m thinking I will charge the dentist for the inconvenience. So If I end up in the ER and die of meningitis, you can use the analogy.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  11. with all the talk of liberal bias here, and of the Slimes pandering to its core constituency, i find it greatly amusing that i have met many people here in Lost Angels who believe that the paper is hopelessly conservative.

    they can’t go bankrupt fast enough for me. it’s been awhile now since one of their telemarketers has called the house, but i don’t know if that is because they finally realized that we weren’t interested, or if because they can no longer afford the expense of marketing that way…either one is fine by me. 8)

    redc1c4 (403dff)

  12. I received my first ever subscription notice from the Times this morning. Why on earth, I have no idea. It said 99 cents for first four weeks. As if.

    PatAZ (2c3538)

  13. i have met many people here in Lost Angels who believe that the paper is hopelessly conservative.


    Dustin (401f3a)

  14. I cancelled my subscription to the LA Times a dozen years ago for much the same reason as you did, Patrick. I still pay for the WSJ on line. I did have some fun with one of their telemarketers (telepests). Informed that I no longer needed a subscription since my parrot died, he walked right into the trap by asking why. The answer, because the only use for your paper is to line the parrot’s cage. click.

    BarSinister (99d480)

  15. Actually the Times is suffering from a wasting disease. Look up Hirschsprung’s Disease and you can see the reason for their problem–they’re simply full of s#@t. Surgery is usually the solution. But what can they do? They’ve already cut Rutten. Do they need to take out Hiltzik as well?

    And yes there are living breathing, apparently sentient human beings living on the West Side of Los Angeles who believe that the Times is hopelessly conservative.

    As for myself, the daily morning newspaper is a habit. For a real newspaper I read my hard copy of the WSJ. For sports–well the current Los Angeles Times sports section is pretty damned thin gruel compared to its glory days, but it’s still got something.

    But I figure that the Los Angeles Times stopped being a serious newspaper maybe 15 years ago.

    Comanche Voter (0e06a9)

  16. _____________________________________________

    but which certainly does alienate the few conservatives in Los Angeles

    And what tiny bit of non-liberalism they had — at least on their website — disappeared totally when they dumped cartoonist Michael Ramirez and then, far more recently, got rid of Andrew Malcolm. But if that weren’t pathetic enough, they’ve more recently hired another political cartoonist, but a predictably leftwing one. So they can’t even claim that Ramirez’s departure was in order to cut costs, assuming the new cartoonist isn’t being paid slave-labor wages.

    When the Chandler family (the so-called remaining rightwing ones) bailed out as stockholders of the LA Times several years ago, I wondered if they shed even a few tears over disconnecting from the legacy associated with their name and LA’s main newspaper. But nowadays, and beyond just the purely economic reasons for getting out in the nick of time, from a strictly operational/political standpoint, the Chandlers have every reason to be relieved they’re no longer affiliated with an operation that’s sinking under the weight of foolish liberal torpor.

    Mark (31bbb6)

  17. To #9 above: (Lee)

    Thanks for the “private browser” tip on Firefox. It seems to work for me.
    Notwithstanding, I too long to hear the death rattle of the LA Times. They have just hired on, apparently, an idiot left wing cartoonist to blast republicans just in time for the election.
    I used to get this paper delivered every single day of my life for about 40 years. Now, I will only read it if it is free (ie: the internet).

    orcadrvr (5daf3f)

  18. There is another problem: the Journal is just a better paper [than the L A Times.]

    The New York Times is a better paper and probably less biased than the L A Times. For local news the Daily News is better, and for national news nearly anything is better, including several foreign papers.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  19. I don’t want it dead, I just want it owned by Murdoch or some other boogeyman for the left.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  20. A story: I cancelled the Times in 2009. They continued to deliver the paper for free for 6 more months, never a bill. Occasionally they would call and ask me to resubscribe and I’d tell them no, I don’t want it. Eventually it stopped. But this shows that even the Times knows the true value of their paper.

    I do miss the weekly Fry’s ad.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  21. Why is the X-axis chopped off that circulation graph?

    Leviticus (61f4c3)

  22. Leviticus,
    Why is the X-axis chopped off that circulation graph?

    Dunno about why, but here it is, at the top of the chart.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  23. I long for a day in the near future when some Slimes writer unwittingly breaks some unwritten lefty rule or code and has to beclown himself trying to get back into the Lefty “church”, but it fails – sending the paper into an even steeper decline in circulation (is that even possible). Any of those guys, Lopez, Skelton, Hiltzik, Rainey (is he even still there?) or Goldstein, would do.

    MikeHu (6451eb)

  24. @ #22

    Thank you, sir.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  25. proof of my point above re “conservative bias”:

    Ron Obvious (#351)
    Part of it is ideological in nature. When Karl Rove babbled aloud about an era of complete Republican dominance, a lot of newspapers went long on right-wing boosterism on both their editorial and news pages. By 2006, most of their readers were no longer buying the Kool-Aid and fled to on-line media like HuffPo. My hunch is that at some point, they’ll tack back left again, but much too late to save themselves.

    you can’t argue with stupid that strong, only mock it mercilessly. so i did. 😉

    redc1c4 (403dff)

  26. This is too bad as I read the LA Times almost every day (along with about 10 other news “papers”) online. I live in Washington State and don’t want to pay for a paper — especially an out of state paper.

    I thought we were supposed to be more green and take care of our environment at all that…

    Paige Roper Norman (2cfe17)

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