Mickey Kaus gets hold of a staff note that LAT Editor John Carroll circulated after the Times ran Kaus' "Outside the Tent" piece urging the paper add more gossip. In the memo, Carroll at least partly agrees with the Kaus thesis. But in his retort at Kausfiles, Mickey says that Carroll missed the point—and goes on to argue that Los Angeles would better off if the Times vanished. His theory is that better journalistic organizations would magically appear to fill the void. (Kaus, meanwhile, refutes rumors that he will cut back on his blogging and quips, "My current strategy, though, is not to quit blogging abruptly but to gradually lower the quality, frog-in-pan style. Take it to the next level down! So far so good.")
The Carroll memo (via Kausfiles) follows:
From: Carroll, John - LA Times
Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2005
Subject: Kaus critique
As I trust you noticed on Sunday, we're experimenting with a column called "Outside the Tent," wherein non-staff critics are given space in the paper to expose our shortcomings. I've heard some pro and con comment on the first article, by Mickey Kaus. My feeling is that Kaus has a point.
I'm not sure I'd want to get as tabloidish Kaus would have us, but, let's face it, we don't do all that much to portray local political figures (with the exception of Arnold) as much more than cardboard cutouts. Based on my reading of the paper, I'd be hard-pressed to say much about, for example, the personality or character of any member of Congress from Southern California. When we do write about them -- which isn't often enough -- we seem squeamish about going beyond the dry issues. Where are the telling biographical details? Where are the anecdotes? Where are the foibles? Where are the touches of personality that linger in our memories? Such details can be meaningful; at minimum, they do much to engage people in reading about politics.
We can discuss at our next meeting. In the meantime, please take this criticism to heart.