Thursday, September 29, 2005

On The Hometown Paper's Failing

From L.A. Observed, the best summation yet of the LAT's utter failure under Tribune control:

In today's New York Observer, Bruce Feirstein attempts to help Gothamites understand why on his block in upscale, literate Democratic-voting Hancock Park, only three of twenty homes get the Pulitzer-winning Los Angeles Times (four receive the N.Y. Times.) He lasers in on recently departed editor John Carroll.

He renamed the Metro section “California,” seemingly oblivious to the fact that while L.A., San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento may exist in the same state, they certainly don’t share the same state of mind. He presided over a book-review section that was arcane and impenetrable. (I know it’s anecdotal, but I used to look at it thinking, “If I’m not reading this, who in hell is?”) He ran a weekly column about life on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that, while well-written, seemed 20 years out of date. Nobody moans that you can’t get a decent bagel out here any more; the Brooklyn Dodgers have been here for half a century. It’s not that Angelenos don’t care about New York, but one had to ask: What value does any of this provide for our readers? What does it have to do with life in L.A.?

And then there was Carroll’s hiring of Michael Kinsley to oversee the editorial pages: a guy who didn’t live here and never moved here full-time. His remake of the weekend opinion section premiered without a single article about Los Angeles; he trivialized the editorial function by referring to it as the “Opinion Manufacturing Division”—seemingly unaware that in L.A., where election ballots run 40 pages long, the L.A. Times serves a vital, and serious, purpose in the community: People walk into the voting booth carrying the L.A. Times’ editorial page. But you’d have to live here, and vote here, to know that.

In short, the paper felt as if it was edited for Bill Keller and the Pulitzer committee rather than my neighbors.
Things may be getting better, the author opines. I'll give it some more time before deciding.

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