New media reporter Anne Riley-Katz's LABJ piece on Robert Scheer's venture Truthdig.com focuses less on the deposed L.A. Times columnist and more on co-founder and publisher Zuade Kaufman. With good reason, since it seems that Kaufman—who comes from money and whose name opens doors in L.A. circles where Scheer's might not—played crucial parts in making the webzine happen.
Daughter of homebuilder Donald Kaufman, as well as a relative of billionaire Eli Broad, Kaufman is handling the site’s look and branding, as well as securing all the financing, contract negotiations and payments.
While Kaufman has long traveled in L.A.’s moneyed circles and is a member of the ACLU of Southern California’s board, Truthdig.com has put her in the limelight as never before.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming – we’ve fielded a lot of calls and the attention has just been amazing,” said Kaufman, a single mother who lives in Brentwood and spends part of each year living in France.
Kaufman got her first job in journalism by working with Scheer at the Times as a researcher (she had met him earlier after being introduced by the Finnish consul general). Kaufman was then hired by the Westside Weekly, a Times community news insert, to work with Scheer on a column he did there. She also worked as a reporter for the section, but it was shut down in 2001 and she went on to get her masters of journalism at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication in 2005.
Kaufman calls her and Scheer equal partners in Truthdig, though she acknowledges putting in "family money." The site's paid staff includes Richard Core, recently ousted as editor of the L.A. Times website; ex-Times news editor Tom Caswell; and Barry Golson, the former executive editor of Playboy and TV Guide. Ex-Times photographer Rick Meyer has contributed.
Also in the LABJ: In his back-page column, soon-to-depart editor Mark Lacter muses about the good old days but embraces the digital journalism future: "No matter how much the Jayson Blairs and Judy Millers have managed to muck things up, this continues to be a fun way to make a living. Delivering information that people otherwise wouldn’t have known – and perhaps knocking down a few bad apples in the process – remains as rewarding for me as it was nearly 30 years ago covering night cops in Newport News, Va....There are so many new ways of imparting fact and opinion. At this point, most every conceivable idea is being thrown against the wall, and if it all seems impossibly confusing, take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone. For all the yammering, no one has the first clue about where things will finally land."