Read the memo

LA Times also adapts meetings to the digital news cycle

LA Times billboard of old. Courtesy of Gary Leonard.

The New York Times got a lot of attention last month for changing up the old page one news meetings to accommodate the digital newspaper. Now the editor of the Los Angeles Times is talking about changes he has implemented in the schedule and function of the daily news meetings. The editors now gather earlier in the day, starting at 7 a.m., and talk about how to cover stories through the day, not just for the following day's print paper. (Hopefully they have been doing this all along, to some degree.)

Here's what editor Davan Maharaj sent to the staff this afternoon — and yes, he does address his colleagues as "comrades."

From: Maharaj, Davan
Sent: Monday, March 09, 2015 2:11 PM
To: yyeditall
Subject: An Update


Two weeks ago, we made a major change in our news operation and the way we attack news stories beginning in the earliest hours of the day.

The results have, thus far, been remarkable, and we want to thank so many of you who have played such an important role in making it happen.

We are still refining this effort. In the meantime, we wanted to share with you the main elements of our new orientation.

It begins each evening, when all editorial departments compile and share their planning memos for the next day’s news coverage. Those coverage memos form the basis for a news meeting the next morning, at 7 a.m., during which news desks freshen coverage plans and Homepage editors use them as a guide to get our best work in front of readers throughout the day.

Our main news meeting, which used to be at 10:30 a.m., now takes place an hour earlier — and it has changed dramatically. We begin by talking about the top story or stories of the day, inviting a robust discussion of reporting angles to pursue as well as Q&As, graphics, photos, videos, etc. It is no longer an A1 meeting but a coverage meeting, with an emphasis on what we can deliver for readers in the coming minutes and hours. It has re-energized our approach to covering news. We hope you can see evidence of that on the Web. (Incidentally, it has led to stronger stories in print as well).

All of this fits neatly with the other work that makes us a must-read online and in print: Accountability reporting. Narrative storytelling. Long-term reporting and writing projects that we buff to a high polish. We are stepping up our high-end enterprise and hiring talented people who specialize in it.

In the coming days, we’ll be inviting groups of reporters and editors to the new 9:30 a.m. meeting, so you can get a sense of where we’re heading. We also want to recognize members of the newsroom who come up with creative and powerful forms of digital storytelling, and we’d welcome suggestions for how to do that.

Please know that we are grateful for the work that has gone into making our new approach a success, and we look forward to sharing it with the wider newsroom.

Davan, Marc, Larry, Megan, Scott, Alice and Colin

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