Media people

Backstory on gangs *

Seems there is some backstory to today's LA Weekly cover piece on Los Angeles street gang violence by Peter Landesman. It apparently had started as a piece for the New York Times Magazine, but he didn't like the editing process and says he quit as a contributing writer over it. His email to a source on the story says he worked on it for more than a year before the NYT killed it, "not because it wasn't good and powerful but because it was."

They don't care, basically, and don't think the NYT readership cares either. It was a bitter ugly brawl, and I quit the NYT over it. I'm ashamed of them, actually.

Other people wanted it (Esquire, and the like) but I decided it became about running the story my way, at the length I wanted, in a way I could control, and for a readership that would get it and care. It'll get picked up nationally anyway.

Feel free to forward this email to anyone who wonders what the hell happened.

Landesman previously became the focus of some media critic and blog scrutiny over his 2004 piece for the New York Times Magazine that reported on the supposed existence of tens of thousands of sex slaves in the U.S. It became the basis for this year's film Trade. Here's then-NYT Public Editor Daniel Okrent's take on that whole episode, and an editor's note that replied to questions raised about the story.

* Landesman confirms and clarifies: Via email.

The email quoted was to an individual -- a source on the story -- and not intended for public consumption. Though I did say he should feel free to forward it, I meant to other individuals I'd contacted while reporting the story; nevertheless, its dissemination is my responsibility.

I'd like to clarify one point. I couldn't be more thrilled that the story ended up in the LA Weekly, one of the few publications left that care about and publish serious investigative journalism, and at some length. When I wrote I wanted to do the story "my way", what I was referring to was the editor-reporter relationship. "My way" means collaborative and mutually supportive. This kind of work is difficult enough; when you find an editor who challenges your writing but still supports and protects you, you hang on to him, as he does to you. I did have that relationship with the three editors I worked with over the years at the New York Times Magazine, where some good work was done ... and then, very sadly, I didn't.



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