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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Los Angeles Times: how and why the editor was sacked

Editor & Publisher reveals that in the Oct.10 issue of The New Yorker, media writer Ken Auletta outlines how the newsroom/corporate -- and Los Angeles/Chicago -- conflicts led to the departure of John Carroll as editor of the Los Angeles Times this summer and cloud the future of the newspaper. In another paper, the Wall Street Journal asks: "Is Marilyn Monroe the answer to the hard times at the Los Angeles Times? After five years of sagging circulation and advertising, new managers at the Times are pushing for more coverage of Hollywood and celebrities."

Please find below some quotes from the Auletta's article:

“In Los Angeles,” he writes, Scott Smith, head of Tribune Co.’s publishing division, “is sometimes described as ‘an empty suit.’”

"Carroll's and Baquet (the successor of Carroll)’s drive to make the Times become a great national paper came at the expense of local coverage. Baquet tells Auletta, “We haven’t mastered making the paper feel like it is edited in Los Angeles.”

-- Times editors and reporters were outraged when Tribune did not offer public congratulations after the paper earned five Pulitzers in 2004, then did not send an exec to the awards cerermony.

- An unnamed senior editor describes the conflict between Chicago corporate and Times editors as ?a wrestling match,? with editors urged to adopt the latest ?management fad,? such as free youth papers that could be read on trains, when there are few trains in L.A.

- Carroll calls the current Times ?test case No. 1 of whether a newspaper chain can produce a first-rate newspaper. ... It may be that is simply structurally impossible.?

- Baquet wants to find new readers but does not commit to a youth spinoff, and does not endorse the new mantra about simply giving readers "what they want" as opposed to what editors think are important. "It's not always our job to give readers what they want," he declares."

WSJ reports that new managers at the Los Angeles Times plan to change the paper's reporting. They want more stories on celebrities and Hollywood, shorter stories, more regional reporting and more combination coverage linking the paper and its web site.

Sources: Editor & Publisher, the New Yorker and the and Wall Street Journal

Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on October 4, 2005 at 06:27 PM in j. Staff changes, m. Improving editorial quality, p. Newsroom management, r. Revenues and business models | Permalink


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