LA Times lacks 'sense of community,' ex-editor O'Shea writes

James O'Shea, whose short span as editor of the Los Angeles Times bridged the eras of Dean Baquet and Russ Stanton, writes in a piece for Nieman Reports that if he had it to do over, he would totally reorganize the paper's news-gathering and shift staff resources to intensely covering Southern California.

As editor of the Times, I didn't get to talk to as many readers as I would have liked. But whenever I did, they all said the same thing: They needed better and more sophisticated coverage of the state, a role that plays to the strength of the Times.

The paper was considered one of the industry's crown jewels. We had everything a multimedia newsroom needed: news bureaus around the world and nation, great correspondents and editors, stunning photography, sophisticated graphics, and strong, solid reporting.

But the organization lacked a crucial component: It had a weak sense of community, the core of its journalistic soul. In fact, few in the organization could even agree on which community the paper should serve. Many journalists felt that the Times community was the nation and the paper had to be the voice of the West.

After he was removed as editor by Tribune, O'Shea ran the recently-suspended Chicago News Cooperative and also detailed his experiences at the Times in a book, "The Deal From Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers." I reviewed the book last year for Columbia Journalism Review.

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