Before he was a city ethics commissioner, Bill Boyarsky was city editor of the Los Angeles Times, chief of the paper's city-county bureau and a political writer for the paper. He writes in today's Jewish Journal that he remembers when the Times was a big deal all across the region, and that the paper's waning influence — and threatened cutbacks — are bad for the Jews and everyone else.
Because of their intense activism, Jews have been among the paper's most devoted readers and fiercest critics. A substantial part of the paper's circulation base has long been in the broad Jewish belt extending from the Westside through the West Valley. Granted, the base has dwindled. Each year, I see fewer copies of the Times in front yards in my Westside neighborhood early in the morning. Some of the losses come from ex-subscribers who now get their news on line. Other former Times subscribers are single-issue Jews who abandoned the paper after parsing every story about Israel, looking for imagined bias or anti-Semitism. But a large number of us remain. For us, and for everyone else, a strong Times is important because it is one of the few institutions that holds this vast region together.
As the staff shrinks, the remaining reporters are spending their time catching up with fast-moving events, rather than digging below the surface. This is the way to lose readers. And as space and staff dwindles, the Times will no longer be able to exercise its function as the one regional voice of the Southland. Our problems are regional. What happens in a school in Carson has an impact on one in the Valley. The closing of an emergency ward in Inglewood will have a direct affect on emergency care on the Westside. If the paper can't cover this -- extensively as the news breaks, as well as with in-depth investigative reporting, both of which take substantial resources -- we all lose.
Also: Romenesko points to a column in the Sacramento Bee arguing "the best hope for restoring the L.A. Times' reputation may be its sale to somebody who would take personal pride in it, and personal responsibility for it."