Evan Maxwell responds to some of the critics of his recent e-mail, which I published in this post. As before, I have embedded links where relevant:
A couple of thoughts arose from reading the comments on my email re Scheer et al v. the Ol’ Grey Lady (AKA the Los Angeles Times.)
Two commentators questioned my knowledge of the paper, since I left in 1984. Fair question, to be sure, and I would say two things in response:
1) I left 21 years ago after reaching the conclusion that I was never going to be comfortable in a highly politicized newsroom. My own views, I have since discovered, make me either a libertarian or a contrarian, and I was always going to butt heads with what had become the conventional wisdom of the newsroom. I kept track of the situation at the paper for almost a decade afterwards, even published a few pieces as a freelancer, and I saw nothing in that time that made me think the paper was more interested in diversity of opinion than it had been in the early 1980s.
2) In the 13 years since I left SoCal, an extraordinary revolution has taken place. Despite the suggestion that Sedona, or Anacortes, WA, where my wife and I spend our summers, is not in the mainstream, the Web and the Blogosphere have made it possible to stay fully acquainted with my alma mater and with the rest of the world. Broadband Rules or, as somebody else on the Web said the other day, “Geography is no longer Destiny.” This whole exercise has convinced me that you don’t have to live in a place in order to understand what’s happening there.
Sure, I don’t rub elbows and egos at Writers’ Guild screenings and I don’t mix it up at book signings or cocktail mashes. But I know that my wife and I have conducted more business with New York and with Hollywood from the hinterlands than we ever did when we lived four miles off Interstate 5. And thanks to blogs like yours, Kevin Roderick’s and maybe even the musings of my old friend and nemesis, Ken Reich, I feel as though I understand more about SoCal media than I ever did when I was locked in trench warfare in the newsroom. Even Bob Scheer’s new website helps me to understand what’s up over on the West Side. It’s so nicely composed and slick that I suspect he had been working on it for some time before he got ousted from his perch at First and Spring.
Twenty one years ago, the Times was on a course that led directly to today. There have been some new developments along the way, some changes for the better and some for the worse. So far as I am concerned, the paper, which I look at each day online, has big problems, like every MSM outlet. But it also has some strengths that it didn’t have in 1984. There are fewer sacred cows in the newsroom, believe it or not. As a matter of fact, I think much of the bellering we hear now is from formerly-sacred cows who have now been put out to pasture. But thanks to the blogs and to networking capability of the web, the civic/media life of La Ciudad is a lot more interesting and exciting than it was when there was only one voice, when an event wasn’t considered “news” until it appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
Maybe the folks now bellowing in the fields could benefit from what I learned many years ago:
Living well beats whining every time.
The Man Without a Newspaper, the man who hasn’t killed a tree in years.
Thanks to Evan for that.