Daily Journal memo: 'Our day begins no later than 9 a.m.'

In a memo to his newsroom, Los Angeles Daily Journal editor David Houston breaks the news that the legal paper's sister publication, the California Real Estate Journal, will soon cease publication. (Editor Michael Gottlieb will become an associate editor of the LADJ.) Houston also asks his staff "are you keeping professional hours?" and pulls an old tactic from the generic manager's toolkit: a rule requiring daily beat memos by 9:15 a.m. Productivity and use of time has been a recurring issue at the Daily Journal since Houston took over in 2008, with some saying it's a staff that needs rules, and others calling Houston's style destructively demeaning and abusive. In the memo, which follows after the jump, Houston calls the Daily Journal "the model for the future of journalism."

All, In the next couple of weeks our sister paper, the California Real Estate Journal, will cease publication. This news is a reflection of the times we live in; as you all know too well, the economic slump has wreaked havoc on the newspaper industry and on the real estate market. However, the Daily Journal remains strong. The closing of CREJ has presented us with some wonderful opportunities. Michael Gottlieb, editor of CREJ, will join us as an associate editor in Los Angeles. We will announce tomorrow (Wednesday) which reporters will answer to him. Some CREJ reporters may join us too. More on that later. Now is a good time to reflect on the work that we do. The Daily Journal is very fortunate that we are able to thrive in this economy. I believe we are the model for the future of journalism. Our work isn't easy, though. Everyday we ask you to produce content that is far more sophisticated than what is being produced by other papers of our size and scope. But it is exciting and it is rewarding, evidenced by yesterday's announcement that Evan George won a national health care award. The Daily Journal provides you the opportunity to do first-rate work. In fact, stories written this year by Evan and by others, including Amy Yarbrough, is as good as work being produced at major papers throughout the nation. I have been fortunate to work with most of you directly and every one of you has the intellect and the reporting skills to produce award-winning stories. So I ask you to recommit yourself. Decide now what stories you will write this year that will bring you and the newspaper recognition, and help you build a successful career. What are you reading beyond your hometown paper? Are you reading the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times? That is what the people we cover read every day and you should too. Are you reading trade publications and blogs related to your beat? Are you keeping professional hours? Our day begins no later than 9 a.m. Starting tomorrow, all of you are required to send your editor an email no later than 9:15 a.m., and copy Lisa Kestenbaum on it. This email should detail what you are working on that day but it should also explain to your editor what more broadly is occurring on your beat that morning. For instance, Evan George might explain what happened over night on health care reform and how he thinks those events will affect our readers. I am asking your editors to use these emails as a basis for a conversation every morning that I know will lead to broader, deeper and moresophisticated coverage. David

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