Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fall of the Times

We've had some discussion here recently on the nature of media, public and private. Regardless of our discussions, the world acts, and in the case of the L.A. Times, the world acting is not to the good of the LAT. The market tells. But it doesn't tell all. I'm leaving a lot of room for our readers to fill in the details. One finds some interesting commentary at the American Thinker link below. For now, the Fall of the Times.

Kevin Roderick, "Incredibly, deep new cutbacks at L.A. Times."

This is a breaking situation this afternoon. Editors met over the weekend to get the word and to refine their lists. Newsroom staffers are being told today individually and in department meetings that as many as 75 editorial positions are being cut through voluntary departures and layoffs. Some staffers were approached last week about volunteering, "enticed" with the threat that this will be the absolute final time that editorial employees will receive two weeks severance pay for each year of service when they leave. When new publisher Eddy Hartenstein took over in August, right after the last round of deep cuts, he was asked repeatedly about the prospect of new layoffs, and according to a first-hand report I passed along then:

The question of more layoffs was posed in half a dozen different ways and he said he hadn't been given a target number for the staff, that Sam Zell told him to run the place, etc., etc. He did say (as did Mark Willes and Sam Zell) that we can't cut our way to prosperity.
I've emailed Hartenstein and Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan some questions about what has changed since August and the extent of this round of cutbacks. My sources say the newsroom staffing level is headed to about 650, but I don't know if that includes the decimation of the Washington bureau expected by many there after the November election.

Thanks to Thomas Lifson, "Newspaper death spiral accelerates" at American Thinker.


Eowyn said...

I, for one, and enjoying a bit of schadenfreude at the L.A. Times' expense. The decline in its staff is directly proportional to the decline of the "dead tree" industry as a whole. As a recovering journalist (sorry, Walk-Man!), I can see quite clearly how the trend toward liberal bias has, if not led to, at least severely aggravated the decline of the traditional newspaper.

The LAT has thumbed its nose at many of its readers for at least a decade now, and the chickens are coming home to roost. (Metaphor chosen intentionally.) It faces either massive revamping -- jettison the bias NOW, and become a real reporting organ that delivers actual facts -- or face eventual oblivion.

Concurrently, of course, it has to face up to online realities and position itself accordingly. Other newspapers -- most notably small, local ones -- are getting it, so there's no reason the LAT can't. (Unless the staff clings to its elitist view -- which I would it doesn't, but predict it will.)

Eowyn said...

(which I would HOPE it doesn't)

(recovering journalist indeed!:)