Wednesday, June 11, 2008

dark days for journalism

K. frequently worries that my not-infrequent imprecations about the state of newspapers in the 21st century will be taken personally by real live journalists (such as our own David Allen). So before I launch off on my latest tirade, let me assure all readers that I have the utmost respect for journalists. Not only was my first job out of high school as a copy-editor at a national magazine, but some of the most important things I've ever read have been in magazines and newspapers. Like teachers, journalists are the underpaid underpinning of a functional society.

Actually, I don't have a tirade to share with you, because Harold Meyerson in yesterday's WaPo already said it better than I can. The LA Times was already rolling downhill by the time we moved down from Northern California, but the din of its current precipitous plummet (was that the sound of an axle breaking?) is now deafening.

Thanks to Princess Siracusa for the link.


Anonymous said...

Ironic that you would post this today. In today's edition they notified us that the once a month L.A. Times magazine has been discontinued due to cut backs.
I still subscribe to it though I seem to get more & more of my news via the internet for free.
I don't understand why a person would spend all that money for a newspaper and then just gut it of any real meaning.

meg said...

Yeah, I've been following the saga of the sunday magazine for years now. I knew it was doooooomed when they changed the name to "West" a year or so ago; that title heralded the demise of the San Jose Mercury News's sunday mag too.

I don't understand what's going on in Sam Zell's mind. If you get rid of all the writing, what's the purpose of a newspaper? No one buys it for the ads. (Maybe for the coupons, I guess...)

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of the L.A. Times anymore; dropped my subscription long, long ago--late 80s or early 90s when the straw that broke the camel's back was a page one article on something I knew in depth that was both opinionated, biased, and factually wrong. I wrote my only letter, ever, to the Times editor on that one, canceled, and never looked back. Then there was the publisher-of-the-month period, which either culminated, or at least included Kathryn Downing joining the ranks of Harrison Gray Otis and Otis Chandler on the list of publishers. I wondered whether the recent upsets, referred to in the OP by Meg were overblown in the Washington Post. A quick google, and doubt it. I came across the following lead in an AP story from today: "The Los Angeles Times said Wednesday it will ax its money-losing monthly magazine after the July issue and launch a new publication that doesn't use editorial staff." Isn't that pretty much the death knell for a newspaper? Sorta like Jack radio.

calwatch said...

"Not use editorial staff" is a code word for an advertorial, like the one they shoved in as the "Education" station a couple of Sundays ago, or the occasional features on "Southern California Gaming", Las Vegas, and real estate they do.

Ed said...

Is it the lack of advertising revenue and falling subscriber numbers, or is it the pressure to finance the purchase that is the real culprit? I was under the impression that the Times was still profitable. Is it just not profitable enough?

Any chance these journalists with some free time will consider starting up a web-based paper? I'm willing to redirect my LA Times subscription dollars.