In the expanded print version of last week's LA Weekly story on Manohla Dargis and Nicolai Ouroussoff defecting to the New York Times, Nikki Finke touches on a sore point among staffers on the second floor of the L.A. Times. It's that, unlike news stories and columns, their Times arts and features stories are only available on the web to print subscribers or to web users who pay a fee. Critics and other Calendar writers feel the resulting much smaller audience for their pieces reduces their influence and reach. As someone here observed recently (or maybe it was Richard Rushfield), does anyone you know actually pay for that Calendar Live access?
The Calendar staff is known to be peeved about the “let’s-try-to-make-a-buck” decision to change online viewing of Calendar’s articles and reviews from free to subscription. LAT sources say Ouroussoff nagged bitterly and repeatedly about it. As for Dargis, in the words of one colleague, “She was very aware of being cut off from the world because Web sites that compile reviews would not have access to her work. And in the current environment out there, the Internet is where reviews are really bandied about.” That issue, though, “had nothing to do with my decision to leave,” says Dargis.
Finke also muses some on a replacement reviewer for Dargis at the LAT, but mentions no names other than to shoot down the Elvis Mitchell possibility.
* Update: Both Defamer and commenter "Ex-LAT" below have heard (let's hope independently) that the Times plans to end the pay-only experiment on CalendarLive.