Former Times feature writer Roy Rivenburg calls his send-up Not the Los Angeles Times and includes spoof blogs by Sam Zell and Tribune innovation guru Lee Abrams, some digs at LATimes.com's fascination with celebrities and tabloid news, and a "story" on the last editor at the Times, who is replaced by a machine and has to fire himself. The first post at Go to Zell: Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Sam begins: "Partners: How can I put this gently? $%!# you! There, I said it." The site looks just like LATimes.com and has some satire that bites. From the story on the last Times editor:
For the 23rd time in 18 months, the Los Angeles Times is losing its top editor. Raul Jones, a former newsroom janitor who rose through the ranks as layoffs shrank the number of real journalists, was fired yesterday after refusing to lay off the paper's last employee – himself.
In a blistering farewell e-mail sent to himself, Jones defended his stance against further cuts. "I had to draw the line," he wrote. "It's one thing to sack everybody else, but I can't countenance my own dismissal. Who's going to cover city and state government, the war in Iraq and Britney Spears? The quality of the paper will suffer."
But Tribune Co. spokesman Randy Michaels said the paper would do just fine, thanks to sophisticated new software that rewrites wire-service stories in the style of former Times reporters.
"We analyzed past articles and found that 38% of all stories began with the writer mentioning the time of day," Michaels said. [Click here for recent examples.] "Our new software will duplicate that formula."
I recommend Making Foreign News Fun, a riff on Abrams' widely-panned innovation memos:
Problem: People don't read foreign news. But they LOVE watching "The Amazing Race." Why? Because the show makes foreign countries seem exotic and COOL....
We need to rebrand foreign news. Make it FUN. Have our reporters RIDE high-wire bicycles across a windy ravine in Burma, or trim the hooves of WILD horses in Ecuador.
Let's shut down our OBSCURE bureaus (Bogota, Jakarta, Nairobi ... Does anyone really CARE?) and embed a reporter in "The Amazing Race." That way we can write about "real" foreign news as part of a blog about the SHOW.
Some other blogs at NTLAT.com include What's Brewin': The Tea Blog, the Not Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Blog, the Not Another Blog blog, and the In Fact, Forget the Paper, Let's Just Blog blog. Rivenburg, who left the Times in the 2007 buyout, calls it a send-up of the Times, pop culture, current events and advertising. He has another website at OffKilter.org.