Tribune 'doesn't know greatness'

LA Observed contributor Bob Baker is a former Los Angeles Times city desk editor, reporter and writing coach. He posts at Native Intelligence that today goes down in Times lore as among the lowest.

I got the phone call at home an hour ago: The Tribune Company fired the L.A. Times’ publisher. And it made me think: What were the previous ditches, low points, disaster areas, self-imposed crises at The Times?

Maybe the day in 1965 when a so-called good newspaper had to recruit a black advertising staffer to venture into Watts because it wasn't safe for the paper's all-white staff to venture into the riot zone.

Maybe the day in 1979 when the unjustified fatal police shooting of a woman over an unpaid utility bill was reduced to a one-paragraph summary.

Maybe the day in 1995 when the newspaper eliminated its Suburban sections, permanently ending much local news coverage.

Maybe the day in 1997 when a businessman named Mark Willes, whose appreciation of journalism extended no further than his ability to read, became publisher and started trying to convert a newspaper into a consumer product...

Like Rumsfeld, who wanted to control each decision in the Iraq War, no matter how small, the Tribune Company insists on pushing into an arena it knows nothing about: Greatness in journalism.

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