Observing the LAT from abroad

Matthew Garrahan, the Financial Times' man in Los Angeles, updates the U.K. readership on all this hand-wringing out here about the L.A. Times. Excerpt:

The speed of cuts implemented first by Tribune, which bought the title in 2000, and more recently by Mr Zell, has bewildered an organisation that enjoyed decades of stability under the Chandlers.

Its last three editors quit in successive years in protest against cost-cutting while almost 250 jobs have been shed in the past 12 months, reducing editorial staff to about 740. More anguish was caused by the recent merger of its Washington bureau – an important symbol of the paper’s independence and national aspirations – with the Washington bureau of the Zell-owned Chicago Tribune.

“It’s all about Chicago taking control,” says one Tribune employee who opposes the move. He adds that the paper can no longer consider itself one of the “big four” US titles (the others being the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal).

“It means the LA Times is the largest regional paper in the US without its own Washington bureau.”

Frank Gilliam, dean of the UCLA School of Public Affairs, told Garrahan that "when the Chandlers owned it the paper was the most influential thing in town. Since then it has lost its connection with southern California." Garrahan also quotes me.

Also: Mark Lacter says tomorrow's Wall Street Journal story on Tribune and Sam Zell "reads like an obit."

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