L.A.Times Fiasco: Takin’ It To The Streets

Since it seems everybody and their egos has had to say something (as opposed to having something to say) in regards to this week’s L.A.Times Current section controversy I decided to take it down to the bottom rung on the journalistic ladder and check in with my delivery dude to catch his thoughts on the whole mess after he drove up and tossed my paper this morning:

Me: Hey, how’s it going?
Delivery Dude: Who are you?
Me: I’m one of your customers. I live right here.
DD: What’re you doing up at this hour on a Sunday?
Me: I wanted to ask you something.
DD: I don’t have no money, man.

Me: No, it’s not that. I just wanted to know what you thought about what’s happened recently down at your paper with the opinion editor resigning after the publisher axed a special editorial section that was supposed to be in today’s edition.
DD: Huh?
Me: You know… the whole deal that ended with opinion editor quitting Thursday?
DD: You kidding?
Me: They’re calling it “Grazergate?”
DD: Razor what? No clue, man.
Me: Come on, you had to have heard something, especially in the aftermath of the resignation with all the emails and then more emails and then huffy internal memos from people slammed in those emails and then an article yesterday about all those emails and memos and after that blog posts and –.
DD: What’s a blog, man. None of that means shit to me. I don’t read the paper.
Me: Well that’s understandable… but let me ask your opini –.
DD: Come on!
Me: I just want your perspective.
DD: Whatever. Fine. I only have 200 more papers to deliver before sunrise.
Me: Let’s say you know a guy who has a roommate who does something stupid, like brings a girl home to live there without first clearing it with you. There’s barely enough room for the both of you so you get pissed and then he gets pissed off and you throw the girl out and in protest he leaves and then starts badmouthing you and your friends all over the place so you return the favor and then word spreads and more tenants in the building who you don’t even know start weighing in and talking about it. If that happened, what would you do?
DD: Easy. I’d tell everyone they just need chill. Shut the fuck up big time.
Me: Exactly! That’s what I’m talking about.
DD: That means you, too. Go take an Ambien or something.
Me: Good advice.

2 Replies to “L.A.Times Fiasco: Takin’ It To The Streets”

  1. Excellent blog and links Will! I missed this entire mess, primarily as I dropped the LA Times in the spring of 2006. It wasn’t over trivial stuff like undelivered papers or papers trashing my gardens when the paper was misaimed. (It happend but gardens grow back and you do get a credit eventually).
    Rather, it was the LA Times loss of focus on its role in society.
    A great newspaper reports all the facts cleanly and lets the reader decide where they want to stand on issues. The LA Times articles stopped being neutral and became focused on steering opinion to whomever they felt the need to pander too. It lost its neutrality and the front page in my humble opinion began to read more like an op-ed taking stand on issues.
    The opinion pages tended as one of the blogs referenced were becoming too focused on “has been reduced to promo pieces for authors hawking books or “celebrity” commentators. Lately it has been suffering from the same entertainment creep as the rest of the paper.” Even an area where opinion is key and I enjoyed because it gave balanced perspectives now is focused on whatever celebretity cause may get them some extra advertising dollars.
    I won’t hold my breath for any changes as until someone figures out how to be neutral and profitable nothing will happen.

  2. Will,

    Back in 1971 I delivered the LA Times from the comfort on my Rambler station wagon, and always carried extra copies for the Temple City Sheriffs, that always seemed to be at Winchell’s Donut Shop. Working seven days a week wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do the rest of my life, so I made a career change and landed my current job in the Times Pressroom.

    Your chat with the delivery driver brings thoughts of my colleagues in Operations at the newspaper, they have no clue what’s occurring in the business or who the players are. David Hiller has been with the newspapers five months, yet many didn’t know Jeff Johnson was terminated and replaced last year.

    The exodus of writers and editors at the Times will only increase the sharing of bylines from other Tribune properties, and the CEO of Tribune (Dennis FitzSimons) told us last year we did not need all the writers reporting the same news.

    With reporters writing about Los Angeles from far away places like Chicago and New York, readers will have watered down versions of stories and articles that have nothing to do about the area we live.

    Next Friday 21,000 Tribune employees will know the fate of the company, and we may become part owners with our retirements used to make this deal work, whether we want to or not.

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