Three investigative reporters and a half-dozen editors have been assigned to identify ideas that get readers excited about the newspaper again. Editor Dean Baquet is holding a meeting today to formally launch what they are calling internally the "Manhattan Project," but not Baquet alone — Tribune company's newly installed publisher David Hiller is involved too. "The newsroom is energized about innovation,” Hiller told the New York Times. "And having the code name of the Manhattan Project captures the sense of significance and urgency that I think is altogether called for." The group will supposedly look at ways to boldly transform the paper online and in print, but the ideas mentioned in the NYT piece are pretty familiar: new sections, more columnists, letting readers post local news to the website and expanding the LAT's reach around California. The NYT says the idea began with California investigations editor Vernon Loeb and will be led by Marc Duvoisin, the assistant managing editor for writing. Reporters Glenn F. Bunting, Chris Gaither and T. Christian Miller are on the team.
The effort is already being mocked at Romenesko, where a letter writer's tips to reinvigorate readers include "Go out in street, see news, write it up" and "print the damn paper in register."
* First reactions I'm hearing: Investigative reporters? Good diggers, but not typically the most creative innovators in any newsroom. If they're going to dilute the staff for months for this project, why not the best and brightest? Point taken: The Times' troubles have mushroomed while investigative reports have been winning awards, so that's probably not where the problems lie. Also: Could there really be no women on the team? Nobody with a deep sense of L.A.'s diversity? No apparent focus on better serving Los Angeles?
New name: Spring Street Project