I've heard more grumbling than usual from the features side of the L.A. Times newsroom about the time and money devoted to this week's touchy-feely innovation session, facilitated by a paid psychotherapist/consultant who uses a talking stick and bills herself as a "visionary" with a talk show in the works. One staffer emails that it's crazy to turn "this crisis, which is really about money and about corporate leadership, into merely a psychological issue." You know, just about everybody I hear from down there is pro innovation. But being for change is the easy part. The hard part, of course, is choosing which of many paths to go down, especially with the paper still almost wholly reliant on revenue from the print side. There still seems to be skepticism among the staff whether the new leadership has a clue on what's the right way to go for the future. Meanwhile, Publisher David Hiller endorsed one recent innovation, giving his top internal award to the political blog Top of the Ticket. Editor Russ Stanton memos on it:
From: Stanton, Russ
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Subject: Kudos to ...
Top of The Ticket-eers Andy Malcolm and Don Frederick, who today were awarded the annual Publisher's Prize in recognition of their outstanding work.
At the outset, they simply wanted to be unpredictable, in both subject matter and in attitude.
Today, they might be the oldest Rookies of The Year, at least when it comes to internet history.
Their idea was a simple one: blog from Washington and Los Angeles about the most historic presidential campaign in more than a half century, taking advantage of our offices on both coasts to give readers around the country near 'round-the-clock commentary and insight.
And boy, have they (I regularly get emails from Andy in the wee hours of the morning). They have broken news, done Q&As with our correspondents from the trail, cracked jokes, conducted reader polls and made Top of The Ticket the most interesting online read on the campaign. And they get a lot of help from our colleagues who are laboring day in and day out on the trail, providing feeds, breaking stories and providing analysis.
When Top of The Ticket made its debut in June 11, 2007, it was but one of an estimated 100 million blogs on the crowded internet landscape. Since then, the boys have posted more than 1,900 items, which have drawn more than 6,650
citations from other websites and more than 32,000 comments from readers. It is now ranked in the Top 500 (No. 469 as of a few minutes ago) of all blogs on the internet.
Yesterday morning, Top of the Ticket surpassed 1.73 million page views in April, breaking the previous latimes.com monthly blogging record set in February by, who else?, Don and Andy.
It's this kind of creative thinking that will keep us a must-read in print and online.
Stanton speaks May 8 under the auspices of Zócalo, in a conversation at Autry National Center with NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Info.