L.A. Times Jumps the Shark

timesblog.jpgResistance is futile. L.A. Times assimilated by L.A. Now blog. Someone set us up the news.

There has been much criticism of late regarding one of the world’s most venerable news institutions. A sale, a few firings, a revolving door of editors. Ever since the term new media was coined, “professional” journalists and corporate news outlets have chuckled at the competition known as the blog. Bloggers are not journalists. They are not media. They are not people. Newspapers are the news. They are the ones who deliver the cold hard facts of the day – unless it’s a story on Tupac. Whoops.

I have a fun little daily ritual where I check out the Times online just to see what they consider their “top stories.” Today, one of them, is a morning roundup from their blogs.

Smile, blogger. The war is over. The Man hath conceded.

12 Replies to “L.A. Times Jumps the Shark”

  1. Well this is certainly some quality journalism that should have the LAT crew trembling in their old-school-media boots. So did they jump the shark, or is the war over? The two phrases do not mean the same thing. And also, I think the key word here is “their blogs.” It’s still content coming from a professional staff of news reporters — not some dude in his bedroom, posting regurgitated rumors he heard on some other guy’s blog (who heard it on yet another person’s blog). Just because newspapers are playing the game and offering their information in the online form that’s most popular, that doesn’t mean the old bloggers-vs.-professional-journalists war has been decided. When I read something on an actual newspaper’s web site (whether in blog form or otherwise), I trust it much more than something I might read on Joe Schmo’s personal blog or even on a blog belonging to a popular network of weblogs. (Yes, even in spite of the occasional Tupac misfire.) Very few blogs even approach the level of quality control (fact checking, copy editing and general editorial oversight) that actual news organizations can afford. I fear the rapidly approaching day when such things are a thing of the past. (But that day is not here yet.)

  2. Oh, and no, I don’t work at the L.A. Times. Your post just really struck me as smug and misguided.

  3. abscond, it wasn’t smug or misguided. Yes, some of the group blogs aren’t perfect, but we’re better off with them than without them. If the LAT’s recent blog-spawning gooses the local group blogs into doing more fact checking and identifying rumors as such, that will create a healthily competitive atmosphere that would benefit readers of both types of blogs.

    But what I wanted to say is: I had a discussion with another Metblogger yesterday about our differing perceptions of the LA Times. He thinks it still sucks big time, I think it has improved over the past few months. The difference is, he only looks at the online edition whereas I only see the print edition via daily delivery (which is cheap by the way.)

    After we parted I looked at the online edition and found I would agree with him to an extent if it was the only version I saw too. One thing he pointed out is how the local coverage is sorely lacking. He’s right, it often seems haphazard. The term “local” that LAT uses could be subdivided into specific areas and mini-bureaus that would cover them but something tells me Zell will not be ponying up for that sort of thing.

    Speaking of Zell, and the differences between the print and online editions, in todays edition, there is an article that covers a rather sleazy story involving the Chicago magnate as if the writer, Tony Perry, is trying not to piss of the boss and get his ass fired. Read it and wince at the contortions in the final paragraphs like I did. Is it just me or did he prove his contrary argument?

    In today’s print edition, this article appeared at the bottom of page 3. In today’s online edition, it is the NINETEENTH item on the California|Local section way, way down the page.

    To tie it together, this is story (about a Zell-owned company evicitng seniors from mobile homes parks in SoCal that it owns) for the local group blogs to investigate, since LAT practically comes clean with their confusion over how to cover Zell.

  4. Phrase of the Week: “occasional Tupac misfire”

    “Very few blogs even approach the level of quality control (fact checking, copy editing and general editorial oversight) that actual news organizations can afford.”

    Yes, the L.A. Times has proven there are very, very good at this. Thank you for proving me wrong.

    What frightens me is that someone would choose to believe anything as fact just because it is parked at some famous domain.

    I do appreciate your comments, absconded. The idea that you took the time to read and comment on some blog full of “regurgitated rumors” somehow amuses me. I am delighted that a smart-alecky little post of mine, written out of complete boredom, regarding nothing more than one of my own personal observations and opinions has ruined your Friday. Let’s make this a weekly venture.

  5. So basically you guys are saying: “Look, big news organizations have made mistakes, therefore blogs have won”? That’s ridiculous.

    Name me one reliable blog that doesn’t rely on reports from major news organizations for the bulk of its hard news coverage. Until there are blogs that can afford to pay a staff of reporters to spend their day gathering news* (and also hire photographers, editors, copy editors, graphic artists, etc.), then blogs really aren’t in the same league.

    *By “gathering news” I don’t mean surfing the web for interesting items on other people’s sites or snapping a picture on your way to work of that cute dog poking its head out of a car window.

    Don’t get me wrong — I’m not a hater. There are a lot of things that blogs — by their very nature — can do quicker and better than old media outlets, and I read quite a few of them on a daily basis (147 Google Reader subscriptions and counting). I just think saying “the war is over” is off the mark. If old-school media outlets were to disappear tomorrow, and the public had only blogs to rely on for their news … well, that would be quite scary indeed.

  6. So much for blogs that do have the money. Huffington Post, the big-money-backed blog has taken the tabloid approach to their coverage. They can afford to hire whoever they need to bring Traditional Journalism Values to their site, but if you look at their screaming headlines, they are clearly not interested in covering the issues at play as far as voters are concerned.

    Here are their top story headlines as I type this comment:

    Clinton Fatigue/Steady Erosion Of Support From Past Supporters…
    Fund-Raising: Major Donors Tapped Out

    Media >> WATCH: Jon Stewart Rips ABC Debate

    More in Media >> Katie Couric Memoir Rumors… Vets vs Time’s Iwo Jima Cover

    WATCH: The Pennsylvania Democratic Debate In 1 Minute

    And Arianna also slips in this vital info: Click here to pre-order my new book, Right Is Wrong.

    Maybe the unfunded, lower echelon blogs should stay scrappy and continue to shoot from the hip if this is what money gets you.

  7. Whats a shame here is that LA Now is actually a great blog.

    The problem isn’t that the Times is giving some great exposure to their blogs, which do have some great content that can be as good as their “mainstream” content, but that they’re steering readers to a blog to recap whats big in the news.

    Let me spell this out: THE FRONT PAGE OF THE TIMES SITE IS STEERING READERS TO A BLOG TO READ HEADLINES.

    Shouldn’t the front page of the Times have all the headlines one should need? Why should someone need to click to get a recap of important news as chosen not by the editors, but a staff writer?

    Just a horribly clumsy and stupid waste of space.

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