SkyscraperCity banner
1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Tastemaker Extraordinare
Joined
·
308 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Eastie Editors Are Colonizing L.A.



By Jamie Court, Jamie Court, president of the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, is author of "Corporateering."



My alma mater, Pomona College in Claremont, used to call itself the "Harvard of the West" until the school recognized that becoming a great college meant finding its own unique voice, not imitating the creme de la creme of East Coast institutions.

The Los Angeles Times suffers from the same syndrome. The newspaper's East Coast focus increasingly comes at the expense of Western voices and perspectives. Looking east for direction may be natural for the former New York Times managers now in charge in Los Angeles. Transplants include Managing Editor Dean Baquet, Deputy Managing Editor John Montorio and Editorial Page Editor Andrés Martinez. Editor John Carroll is also an East Coaster, from the Baltimore Sun. But the L.A. Times should strive to be more than the "New York Times West."

Pursuing the ghost of the Gray Lady — the Eastern icon of newspapers — could be a worthy endeavor if it simply meant giving reporters the time and money to do stories right at a time when the newsroom budget is under fire from its Chicago-based owners. The East Coast editorial mentality I take issue with is a high-brow view that caters to an elite intelligentsia, as opposed to the more populist Western view that life and news center on real people and everyday concerns. In the hard-news arena, for instance, it seems to me that the eastward view of editors has resulted in national and international news displacing local and California stories.

The first change came years ago with the disappearance of the Page 3 state section in favor of international news — the New York Times model. Even now, with the world watching Arnold Schwarzenegger, state news is increasingly relegated to the paper's bowels. Despite having the fifth-largest economy in the world, California isn't the leading character on Page 1. On most days, as I count, only one local or state story appears on A1. Often that Metro story appears below the fold. Column One stories — those features that usually run along the left side of A1 — also show the disproportionate emphasis on national and international issues and events.

In the feature sections, too much valuable real estate is devoted to East Coast perspectives. The Book Review is overwhelmed by East Coast reviewers and authors. Calendar dedicates one of four standing columns to "New York, New York."

And the editorial and opinion pages are dominated by East Coast thinkers. Op-Ed Editor Nick Goldberg is from New York. He and Martinez report to Michael Kinsley, who was dean of East Coast liberal political cognoscenti as editor of the New Republic and Harper's and now commutes from his home in Seattle. Their problem is over-relying on Eastern viewpoints on the opinion pages that are the only places in the newspaper where Angelenos and Californians can speak in essays.

Kinsley's CNN colleague, Margaret Carlson, a Washingtonian, is a regular columnist. Columnist Max Boot lives and thinks in New York. Kinsley and Martinez each have a weekly column — in addition to controlling the editorials and publishing their friends and Times colleagues. Every column by Martinez has been about a national or international issue, except two, including Wednesday's semi-local take on international soccer rivalries. Kinsley did no better except for one local issue he was forced to address in his column recently — the lack of female voices on his opinion pages.

Kinsley & Co. seems to be trying hard to woo the Washington and New York elites to the page. It's as if catching the attention of Capitol Hill, the U.N. and Wall Street is the goal, not exposing subscribers to fresh voices. The irony is that Kinsley's East Coast friends have to read his opinions online because you can no longer buy a national edition of The Times at the news stand.

The "compete in the East" mentality became evident to me when Kinsley took over in Los Angeles and quickly wrote a New York Times book review that tackled the character, as much as the latest book, of New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks. Although Kinsley's fond of taking aim at East Coast opinion organs, his columns have not once mentioned Schwarzenegger by name.

Under Kinsley and Martinez, the editorial page similarly suffers from an East Coast elite view of law, economy and politics. A page once rooted in the community and the views of community leaders appears increasingly to strive for opinions that might turn heads at East Coast power centers.

"Most of us probably feel we couldn't be free without newspapers," Edward R. Murrow said. "That is the real reason we want the newspapers to be free." The shackles The Times most needs to shed are its concern over how it looks in the East rather than how well it informs the West.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
The article that you've posted seems to directly contradict the title of your thread.

I live in LA and normally read the LAT, but I read both the NYT and LAT on Sunday. For the LAT to copy the NYT wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing because the NYT is a better paper. It covers business better. It covers national and international news better. They both cover local news about the same. They're both good at investigative reporting, but the NYT is better. The NYT book review is much better and so is their magazine. The only thing that the LAT covers better is entertainment, but their coverage in that area far exceeds my interest.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
Yeah, NYT is certainly better. But I find it also more boring. I like that LAT articles often have a lot more personality to them. They seem to be a bit more people driven in stories.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
I read both the NYT and LAT, but other than their entertainment coverage and some op-ed, I am constantly disappointed in how the LAT covers local, city, and state news and issues. After I read the NYT, I have a fairly good idea of the issues that someone living in NYC would be dealing with on any given day. I don't think that's the case after I read the LAT. I still read it, no matter how out-of-date, incomplete or irrelevant it may be, because it covers where I live. I just have to augment it with reading the LA Weekly, CityBeat, Los Angeles Magazine, LA Downtown News, and a few blogs to get what New Yorkers get from the NYT.

I attended a "What Makes A Magazine Great" panel discussion at the REDCAT a few weeks ago and Steve Wasserman, editor of the LAT Book Review, was on the panel. Maybe because the editors of Giant Robot (who get it) were also on the panel, but Wasserman came off as extremely out-of-touch with everyone in the audience. The main reason given for why the LAT Sunday Magazine sucks - they've never trusted any one editor's vision to hand over control. Everyone on the panel except Giant Robot was very concerned with the decline of print magazines in general and blogs.

I also attended a Los Angeles Press Club event hosted by Hugh Hewitt at the LA Athletic Club earlier this week and all the talk (speakers and cocktail chatter) was about the LAT, the decline of newspapers in general, blogs, and LAT-bashing.

Whether NYC or LA, I guess we're getting our information from more than just print magazines and newspapers these days.
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top