* Saturday updates are down below
There's been a lot of email, blog and Facebook traffic reacting to my report this morning that the publisher of the Los Angeles Times overruled his editors and killed the local news section. The decision really seemed to kick up some outrage — and not a little sadness and resignation — among local news consumers. Believe me, it's as bad or worse for most of the journalists at the Times, who also got more layoff news. Here's a sampling of reaction:
- City Council president Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Jan Perry sent letters to the Times, and Garcetti tonight started a Facebook group called Save the L.A. Times California Section that quickly attracted more than
100325 members, among them people active in civic affairs.
We need a dedicated section that focuses on the news of the Southland and the state of California. Cutting the section is the latest blow in cutting the coverage of our community.
- Journalist and USC Annenberg teacher Celeste Fremon at Witness LA:
I’ve subscribed faithfully to the LA Times for over 30 years and, with great regret, I just this minute cancelled my subscription....Like most break-ups, it hurts. But, while painful—as is always the case—finally doing the honest thing is a relief. And now I can respect myself in the morning.
- Former planning commission chair Jane Usher, in an open letter:
I write as a dumbstruck messenger. I don't have a game plan. No call to action. No strategy. But from my perch, the news must be spread and it is not good...I wonder who will remain to write the story. I don't like the sensation of utter impotence at the dismantling of the city's once premiere first amendment voice.
- Veronique de Turenne at Native Intelligence:
The frustrating thing is there's a better answer, an innovative answer, a choice that tweaks the traditional newspaper model and helps tell the real story of what's happening to us right now -- merge business and local news....A free-standing business section at this point in time is a head-in-the-sand luxury.
- William Campbell at Metblogs: "I couldn’t call the paper’s customer service department and put an end to my 23 years as a subscriber fast enough."
- Steve Mikulan at L.A. Daily: "L.A. Times to California: Drop Dead."
- Patterico: "Pay more, get less. How can you pass up that deal?"
- Romenesko commenter Jeff Prescott: "What a sad day for this (former) world champion newspaper."
- Commenter at Times website: "So let me get this straight: here you have a newspaper that has no book review, has no opinion section, no real estate section, and soon to have no local/regional section, but for whatever reason, gives us the Image section?"
* Saturday updates:
The Times ran a Business section story on the changes, with a photo of grim newsroom faces. "We're trying to get ahead of what we see as a very tough year ahead of us," Publisher Eddy Hartenstein says in the story.
Reactions by readers at the Times own website ranges from aghast to disbelief to I told you so. Plus this pointed observation: "Why don't you just publish one section -- Calendar/Hollywood? It seems that is the only thing that is of interest to Times management anymore anyway." Similar disbelief and sadness at SportsJournalists.com.
More email overnight to LA Observed:
- David Lewis: "A city born of many rapes, the latest, I'd say, being the rape of this once great paper that, believe it or not, I would still rather get on Sunday than the New York Times but don't because it is a pitiful shell of what it was only, say, 5 years ago. I miss that L.A. Times Sunday morning read."
- John Herbert: "Regarding the LA Times and the recent changes, there is an alternative! I am talking about the NY Times, available every day at literally any and every Starbucks in LA! This is one of the very best if not THE BEST newspapers in the United States!....On any given day, take the front sections of both papers and lay them on a table, one above the other or side by side, with enough room such that you can fully open each paper. Now do just that - open each paper, page by page, simultaneously and compare the news coverage; the amount of actual news on each page vs. ad copy, the coverage given international and national news. The number of pages, in total, that comprise the front sections of each one. You will quickly see the difference. I won't kid you, it is depressing to do this and truly realize how far the LA Times has fallen....As the doctors will tell you when a person has a fatal disease and will not recover, they can take actions to make the sick person more comfortable, to prolong their life, but their actions will not be curative; the patient is going to ultimately die in the end."
- Ophelia Chong: "i just called the subscription line of the LAT and asked to cancel my account. the account supervisor came on and offered 7 day delivery at the rock bottom price of $21. per month. which is half what i pay now. I renewed for a year, but i also increased my NYT to 7 days for the news. I am now having buyer's regret and will call LAT back and cancel.
- Joe Georges: "Of all the LA Times sections that could be cut, eliminating the California section makes the least sense. For me, this is the one section of the Times that none of the other media duplicate. I can find national, foreign, business and sports news on cable TV and the web. But state and regional news? Not at all unless I spend a lot of time every day going to the websites of the state's various newspapers and also watch the local newscasts for an hour or two every day as dribs and drabs of local news are reported amidst national and foreign and sports and weather and features coverage. A newspaper shouldn't cut an area in which it demonstrates its superiority to non-print media."
- Jack McGrath: "Walk away from this paper. I have just made my 800 toll free call to say good bye. Maybe if we sink this monster, a Dick Riordan, Eli Broad, or other deep pocket individual will come along and develop a new paper, which should be organized as a non-profit like KCET, KPPC, or other public communication company. If 100,000 subs walk in the next month, the paper could go down, or Zell would have to sell it before his asset was totally in the toilet."
- Signed Owens David: "About time. This has been a far left rag for 20 years. Good riddance to all of them. I hope they flip burgers in Mexico. They sent that dirtbag Lopez to Wasilla, Alaska, and yet could care less about City Hall. Total joke and has been for a long time. Bye Bye, dirt bags."