Blogging 101 at the L.A. Times: the memo *

Sallie Hofmeister, assistant managing editor for arts and entertainment coverage at the Los Angeles Times, says in an email sent a few hours ago that she wants her Company Town entertainment bloggers to be more "surprising or interesting." To add a little something to their reports "that readers can use to sound smart in a meeting or cocktail party." Um, instead of reporters ginning up an angle to make the blog seem fresh or edgy, how about more actual scoops? Hofmeister's memo shows the flaw in the LAT's often-stated mission of "owning Hollywood coverage" — its reporters don't actually dominate Hollywood news. And the competition keeps getting bigger, faster and scoopier. Anyway, Hofmeister's email is after the jump. Says an entertainment beat competitor: "Anything with the subject line 'What is news?' indicates that there is trouble within."

* Update: Nikki Finke reacts, posting "Isn't it swell to be so trivialized, Hollywood? By the way, several current LA Times entertainment beat staffers have approached Deadline about jobs recently."

From: Hofmeister, Sallie
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2010 2:31 PM
To: yyCompanyTown
Subject: what is news?

Hey everyone:

We should all be thinking about this as we try to position the Cotown blog as THE news source for all the business of entertainment. If something is happening, even if it is expected and not surprising, the blog should have an original thought about it to make it surprising or interesting. Surely it’s a no-brainer that Amy Pascal was re-upped and maybe not considered hugely newsworthy (although it surely would be if she decided not to re-up). Our competitors are busy putting out the routine headline, but we should be thinking more analytically, perhaps posting about the longevity of studio chiefs and how many years each one has on the job…something that broadens it beyond just the news and advances routine news with some angle that readers can use to sound smart in a meeting or cocktail party. Or the post about a deal that we said was all but finalized. Instead of blowing it off when the release comes out, we need to come up with a fresh angle. People might not have seen our previous coverage! And it’s a way to do RELATED posts on all the previous stuff we have written, giving those stories a second life!

Thanks for considering this.

Sallie Hofmeister
Assistant Managing Editor
Arts and Entertainment
Los Angeles Times

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