Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

News Flash: LAT Readers Deserve Better

When the Los Angeles Times cut its standalone Sunday book review, I was annoyed. When the Business and Real Estate sections were whittled to pale imitations of their former selves, I was confused. When scores of talented staffers and editors were laid off or offered buyouts, forcing the paper to operate on a skeleton crew, I was furious.

And now they've gone and uglied up the layout something fierce, and I've just about given up caring.

Many Angelenos angrier and better-informed than I have voiced their complaints about Sam Zell and his shameful gutting of our city's once-great paper. So never mind about the fact that I now get my book news from blogs, and preferred the New York Times's coverage of the Dodgers' postseason (and never mind that sports columnist Bill Plaschke has decided to "boycott" the World Series for reasons both mysterious and profoundly stupid - whatever).

At the heart of this is that the Los Angeles Times was one of the things that made me excited about moving to the city almost four years ago. I started reading it before the move, right around the time of the paper's Pulitzer-winning coverage about deplorable conditions at King/Drew Hospital.

I read that series and thought, that's good reporting, that's a newspaper I'll be proud to read.

And now, it isn't.

Also, it's really, really thin these days.


Linkmeister said...

I was nine when we moved to LA from Monterey; the Times was the first paper I ever really read. It had Jim Murray in the sports pages back then.

In the 1980s I was back and forth to LA quite a bit, and I used to buy the Sunday paper and spend 1/2 the day reading it. Northrup, Rockwell, and McDonnell Douglas each had separate help-wanted sections of the classifieds.

It's a shame to read what's being done to it. The Chandlers were right-wingers, but they cared about their product.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of over it. Like you I also get my book news from blogs. Yours! I cannot really count on newspapers any more so I look to other sources. Your blog reviews are intelligently written, well researched, and with delightfully readable prose. I'm happy to have stumbled upon it. So thank you. But it's true that I now have to look around the net for similar intelligence in other areas of coverage (like sports, music, science), instead of looking in one place (the newspaper) as in the past.

mary_m said...

LM: One of the brainiest guys I work with confessed that the last time he bought the Sunday Times, he only read the comics and Parade magazine. LOL or cry? Who's to say?

Anon: Aw, thanks - that's sweet! I'm both humbled and horrified that my reviews can sub for the Times. :) Oh well, that's just incentive to do better!

Anonymous said...

The New York Times just reported that advertising income was down 18.3% in the third quarter and Moody's is about to lower the NYT Co.'s credit rating to junk status. They have $46 million cash on hand and they have a debt of $1.1 billion.

There is simply no business left to support large newspapers like the LAT and NYT at the size they are presently constituted - let alone the size they were 10-20 years ago.

Its going to get worse and worse and more and more papers are going to disappear regardless of the state of the economy. They need to come up with new business models or they are doomed.