County supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky just sent a letter to Los Angeles Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein urging him to reconsider his decision to fold local news into the A section and kill California. Yaroslavsky cites his "deepest dismay and concern," and calls Hartenstein's strategy a trajectory to "save the newspaper by destroying it." He uses some other strong language and rejects some of Hartenstein's key arguments — I'd guess influenced by counting former Times projects editor Joel Sappell and Herald Examiner editorial writer Joel Bellman on his county staff. Yaroslavsky's letter is here as a PDF.
Meanwhile: That Facebook group started by Council President Eric Garcetti has hit 1,400+ members, including current and former Times staffers, City Hall staffers and people from all over.
Online only subscriptions?: Sounds like a lot of the Times' most loyal readers have dropped their subscriptions over Hartenstein's decision, the generally thinner content and stuff like the Sundance video — or want to quit their subs. But I'm also hearing from an increasing number who feel they should keep paying to support the journalists. Artist and longtime LA Observed reader Cindy Bernard suggests a discounted Internet only option, but found the Times circulation clerk baffled by the idea.
Just thought I'd relay a little LAT frustration your way.
I'm on a promotional offer 7 Days/ $2.99 week. Super cheap. But the fact is, I rarely read the printed paper. I read it online. The papers pile up unwrapped and I feel guilty. Plus I'm broke.
But I believe in newspapers and I want to pay something, even for the LAT as messed up as it is these days. I call customer service, hoping for an internet only rate, something that would allow me to pay a little for what I use and not waste so much paper. This is a hard concept for customer service to understand and needless to say, it doesn't exist.
That leaves me w/two options - cancel the subscription or put the paper on permanent vacation hold and pay $2.99/week. Neither satisfies me.
Why not just start some type of voluntary, "pay what you think it's worth" option to supplement the subscription option? Would it really be so hard to implement? It's not going to solve the larger financial crisis facing newspapers, but it would show some tiny step towards rethinking an old and outdated model.
Sorry for the rant. Love LA Observed.