The NYT's T Magazine also noticed the resemblance between its cover and the Los Angeles Times Magazine cover. (My post from yesterday.) The LAT mag's creative director, Rip Georges, calls the similarity "utterly coincidental."
Still no website: Newsroom chatter has Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein asking on Monday if the LATimes.com web staff could help throw together a website for the new magazine. (Since everybody else forgot.) Reportedly it was pointed out that, uh boss, the magazine isn't an editorial product of the Times — remember? Another question: where will corrections go since they can't be published in the Times? The mag doesn't come out again for another month.
She protests: This past Sunday's magazine drove reader Karen Klabin to email a letter of severe dissatisfaction to Times editor Russ Stanton (who, to be fair, has no responsibility for the magazine.)
The L.A. Times’ relentless layoffs and cutbacks are notably reflected in the declining quality of the paper. My husband and I have struggled to maintain an allegiance to the Times. We have recently discussed canceling our subscription and becoming subscribers to the New York Times, but we’ve hung in because we care about life in Los Angeles and California. We need and want to know the direction of our various governments’ policies, actions and resources, and we rely on the Times for that information. We’ve hung in because we appreciate Steve Lopez, Dan Neil, Rosa Brooks, Michael Hiltzik, David Lazarus and Tim Rutten. The infrequent but always profound Peter King piece. The arts criticism of David Ulin, Susan Salter Reynolds, and Christopher Knight. But the Times continues on a course of forsaking quality in-depth journalism and criticism for vapid advertorial geared for the uppermost income brackets on the west side. It is baffling to us, for example, that in order to protect a high profit margin the publisher has shucked the Book Review section but kept Home, a section of almost no merit, usefulness or interest. And now there is the new “L.A.,” the Times’ revamped magazine.
It is inconceivable that in a city with so many talented writers, editors and art directors, the Times and all its vast resources has produced what must be the worst city magazine in the nation. I felt compelled to write you because the lack of journalistic integrity is appalling, and it is incomprehensible how the Times allowed its publication.
The cover is hideous for a multitude of reasons, from the font to the model’s slack-jawed expression. In fact, it was so bad that I thought it was some sort of fashion insert and was about to jettison the thing into the recycling bin when I noticed the tiny word “Magazine” in the corner.
It is the low-grade content, however, that is astounding. Did the Editor’s Note somehow bypass editorial review? Had I not known better, I would have thought it was written by a college student with aspirations of a journalism degree. It is sodden with cliché: “straight from angels’ wings,” “filling my heart,” “live the life of possibilities.” It is obscenely self-referential: Why does her “Masters in Middle East studies from USC” have any relevance whatsoever? And how can any thinking person in the United States say that “the statistical analysis of terrorism is fascinating but not that useful”? Really? This is a statement that is either crazily moronic or a miserable, insulting failure in irony. And then there are these slices of excellence: L.A. is a city where “success is revered” but life here “isn’t heaven, all easy and dreamy.” “Hollywood is based on dreams.” And the “ocean, always the ocean.” “I never wanted to let the angels go.” And “you don’t want to let that angel go, either.”
In almost every single article of the magazine the author has needlessly insinuated him/herself into the story, from “Shades of Green” to “Hunt and Seek.” We don’t care whether the author is a dance lover; went to UCLA; believes her newborn baby’s health and safety are “the most important things”; was “heartbroken, awestruck and hungry”; thinks first of food upon arriving in a new city. Andrew Bridge had a compelling first-person narrative; Chelsea Handler’s was piquant and funny. Otherwise, there was almost no reason for the author to self-reference.
The pinnacle, or rather nadir, of this kind of writing, however, is in the interview with Michelle Obama. Here are excerpts from the interviewer’s questions: “I lost my dad before my children were born... I know your mother quit her job... I know my girlfriends are my source of strength...It is obvious to me... I know that must be even more important than ever... I’m sure the reality has hit...I, too, am a product of the public-education system... My guess is the senator believes... We all lament...I thought it was so interesting...” And finally, the clincher: “I like Prison Break, Brothers and Sisters and Mad Men — strange mix, huh?” Succinctly, no one cares. Really. I finally turned back to see who the author was, thinking that perhaps it was another important public figure for whom your readers would have some interest. As you know, it was the magazine’s editor.
I am writing to you because if I was the editor of the Times I would want to understand why the paper’s dwindling loyal subscribers are (reluctantly) contemplating canceling their subscriptions. I truly found the magazine’s content insulting to my intelligence. I understand the Times’ Editorial section has experienced continuous turmoil and insecurity. There is no excuse, however, for the lack of professionalism in the magazine.