LA Times to cut TV grid, squeeze sports pages

latimes-from-broadway.jpgThe LA Times has been warning readers for more than a week that the daily primetime television schedule will disappear from the Calendar section next Tuesday: Feb. 26. Tinkering with the print paper like that is a calculated risk -- they almost always undo changes in the comics, for example, after discovering that print readers still rule -- and in this case the bet is that few enough readers use the grid anymore to make a fuss. The note in the paper tells readers that the TV listings will be available online, but I've heard from some readers that it's not print friendly. Like or not, some people still prefer hard copies. It will be interesting to see if there's much reaction and how the Times handles it.

It's all about saving on the cost of newsprint and ink. Sports editor Mike James informed the Sports staff yesterday that the cost-cutters are further reducing the amount of print space devoted to games. Shorter stories, fewer stats and compressed box scores — and "other significant agate cuts" — are part of the space reductions, equivalent to a page a day. That also starts next week. Here's his memo:

From: James, Mike
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 12:20 PM Subject: space Hey Everyone,

A heads-up about some space reductions coming our way. Beginning next week, as part of an overall reduction in the paper’s news hole, the Sports section is going to be reduced by an average of roughly seven columns a day, or eight pages a week. You’ll all obviously see some changes in the section; a couple of those changes have already gone into effect. We are trying to deal with this reduction in large part by trimming our agate report and not dramatically limiting the original content you all provide so professionally every day.

You may have noticed that today’s NBA box scores are in a reduced format from what we have been using. We made this change ahead of next week because it seemed logical, with the league coming out of the All-Star break. We have eliminated the latest line for baseball, hockey and college basketball as well. There will be other significant agate cuts.

We will continue, however, to use full box scores for our local teams.

I suspect that many of you associated with beats will get emails from readers complaining about lack of scores or truncated box scores. Please forward those to me; I’m compiling information about the reaction to the cuts.

This space reduction will force us to write more tightly as well, and everyone can expect that word counts will be reduced as we work through this.

Thanks, Mike….

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