Monday, March 26, 2007

Spring Street's Downward Spiral.

The L.A. Times has faced enough trouble as a newspaper with a vacillating reader/subscriber base and an ownership group in the Tribune company that regularly wants to gut the staff The battles over the cuts have cost them an editor-in-chief and a publisher so far, and if that hasn't been bad enough, the latest morass in their downtown L.A. offices is the scuttling of a Sunday op-ed section and the subsequent resignation of the editorial page editor who put it together.

L.A. Observed dubbed it Grazergate, as the guest editor was scheduled to be Hollywood big shot producer Brian Grazer -- what happened is that said editorial page editor Andres Martinez was apparently involved with a PR agent at a company who represents Grazer, and publisher David Hiller at first decided to run the section with a note disclosing the relationship, but after it picked up steam, the section got scuttled and Martinez resigned in protest, spouting off.

It wound up being a perfect storm of news, op-ed, and management fighting each other, with news jockeying for new ownership and editorial to take more notice of them, editorial having no clue what kind of opinion section Los Angeles' newspaper ought to have out of some sort of misguided notion of a wall between news and editorial (the real wall should be between both and advertising), and again, clueless management. (Publisher David Hiller actually set up the next Current section to be edited by Donald Rumsfeld, and I suspect that idea has died a very quick death, as the outcry would have been ten times worse.)

This is all part of a paper having a hell of a time deciding whether it wants to or should be a national newspaper, yet being subpar in covering aspects of its home base -- the NYT beats them often to Hollywood scandal, which is embarrassing on its face, but news people there probably feel covering it is beneath them at times. It's amusing to watch as the situation continues to implode.

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