LAT

Giving Baquet advice

MarketWatch columnist Jon Friedman wishes Dean Baquet luck in his future as Editor of the L.A. Times—and says he'll need it.

I want to be happy for Dean Baquet, the new editor of the Los Angeles Times. The announcement last week of his promotion from managing editor, effective next month, represents the culmination of a career very well spent. His resume already glitters with accomplishments....

[John] Carroll told reporters he is leaving for "professional and personal reasons." Hmmm. That vague but telling phrase, coming from a gentleman, is likely Carroll-speak for confirming the speculation swirling around him, that the cost-cutting fury of the parent Tribune Co. finally exhausted his patience and drove him out....

So be careful what you wish for, Mr. Baquet. You will encounter a double whammy the size of the 405 freeway....

Tribune has trimmed an estimated $130 million from the Los Angeles Times, according to published reports, even as its stock price steadily tumbles. Clearly, as far as Baquet is concerned, the barbarians are inside the gates....It seems to me that Baquet will be judged on his ability to make the Los Angeles Times a genuine national newspaper. While it is held in esteem from coast to coast among journalists, the fact is, nobody I know talks about a story he or she read in it, unlike, say, the Washington Post....To the chagrin of Carroll and Baquet, the Los Angeles Times has virtually no buzz in New York, outside of the media industry. It must gall Baquet, an alumnus of the New York Times, to no end to know that his old paper is so well read in the City of Angels.

Baquet's racial identity has also become an item of interest. Several people emailed me after Baquet's promotion to point out that he has been known to bristle at the African American label, preferring that when his ethnicity comes up he be called Creole. The Times does not include Baquet in ads listing the paper's black staffers, and he has not been active in minority journalist organizations, writes Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute. But when his ascent to Editor was announced, stories in the Times and elsewhere referred to Baquet as African American. His younger brother, Terry Baquet of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, tells Prince: "Creole in New Orleans is black. We're descendants of Haitians. We're black. Creole is not a race." Meanwhile, the National Association of Black Journalists looks forward to seeing Baquet at the group's convention in Atlanta next month.

Also from Prince: Pam Moreland, a former LAT reporter and editor, has been named assistant managing editor for features at the San Jose Mercury News.


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