Baquet feels 'a little sad' for Times

Dean Baquet, erstwhile editor of the Los Angeles Times, talks about his future at the NYT Washington bureau and the state of newspapering in a Q-and-A at the Poynter Online website. Snippet:

Q - How are you different today from the editor who left the Los Angeles Times in November?

A - I'm more relaxed. I'm not that different, a little sad when I think about the future of the L.A. Times. It has a really fine editor, I just worry that Tribune will keep cutting back and they will. I wish Tribune would focus more on building.

Q - With so much talk about audience decline and media uncertainty, what's your biggest concern about the future of newspapers?

A - I would challenge one thing. Is the audience really in decline? I can only speak for the L.A. Times and The New York Times, but more people are reading than ever before. They read online. Suddenly we have an audience that we didn't have before. I think that the whole debate about the decline of newspapers has become a financial debate. About market share. About fear of profit margin decline. What's missing is readership, audience, public service. We reach many more people than ever before, and have a much larger impact. We would have a different conversation if journalists took over this debate.

Q - How would journalists take over the debate?

A - We are stuck in "woe is me" mind-frame. We should talk about what we write. Start defending ourselves. Remind people of what we do. My focus is that I want to break stories.

Q - Are you confident about the future of public-service journalism?

A - I'm absolutely confident about the future of public service journalism. I'm a little concerned that all the cost-cutting might make it difficult in some places, but public-service journalism is good business because people read it.

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