LA Observed Notes: End of a full week

nick-ut-party.jpgNick Ut and friends on Monday night. Facebook photo: Rosalie Fox Huntington

Our occasional roundup on media, politics and place from multiple sources. Join 24,273 others and follow @LAObserved daily on Twitter.

At the top

Family feud: Lakers president Jeanie Buss on Friday went to court to thwart (for now) a move by her brothers, Jim and Johnny Buss, to oust her from control of the team. LA Times

This time he means it: Associated Press held a retirement party for Pulitzer-winning Los Angeles bureau photographer Nick Ut on Monday night at the Luxe Center City Hotel. He joined AP in South Vietnam 51 years ago. Longtime AP colleague Linda Deutsch and a ton of journalists attended, plus Sheriff Jim McDonnell, Judge Lance Ito and many others. Nick's post on his retirement. Here's Nick with the AP LA photo department by Ringo Chiu:


matt-lait.jpgLA Times exits: Matt Lait, the LA Times city editor who oversaw the paper's years-long prescription drug investigation and numerous others, is leaving later this month to be the managing editor for a new investigative unit at CNN. Lait will be based in Los Angeles. "He is the perfect leader to guide us on our mission: To seek truth. To break news. To hold the powerful accountable," says the CNN announcement. As a reporter, Lait was instrumental in freeing Bruce Lisker from a wrongful prison sentence. At CNN he will reunite with longtime LAT reporting partner Scott Glover... And also: Washington bureau editor Amy Fiscus is jumping to the New York Times in D.C. "That's good news for the NYT, but very unhappy news for all of us," says the bureau's David Lauter in a memo.

dtnews-cover-mar2017.jpgEnd of an era downtown: Founder Sue Laris closed a deal to sell the Downtown News to Southland Publishing, the owners of Pasadena Weekly, the Argonaut and other weeklies. Editor Jon Regardie and the staff will remain and Southland VP David Comden becomes publisher. "It was key we find a buyer that understands and appreciates local newspapers,” said Laris, who founded the DTN with her then-husband in 1972. Story, first person by Laris

vin-chick-bobmiller.jpgWe lose another voice: Bob Miller, the TV or radio announcer for the LA Kings for 44 seasons, announced Thursday that he will work two final games in April then retire from the booth. Miller has been sidelined with health issues most of the time last season. He is 78 years old. "The end of an incomparable era for Los Angeles sports fans," says the LAT's Helene Elliott, putting Miller in with Vin Scully and Chick Hearn. Here's a Staples Center goal horn for Bob.

Thin blue line: The funeral was held Friday for slain Whittier police office Keith Boyer. NBC4

Media notes

melton-collage.jpgMore on the sale of Los Angeles Magazine and removal of editors Mary Melton and Amy Wallace. LA Weekly's Dennis Romero says that more than a half dozen staffers were laid off — all of them women — including publisher Erika Anderson. In an LA Times story, Hour Media Chief Executive Stefan Wanczyk said "we did not offer employment" to eight employees of 140 at the four magazines the company acquired. An SEC filing suggests that Hour Media paid just $6.5 million for the four magazines, per the Weekly and the Orange County Register.

nydnfront-march32017.jpgTrump and the media: Friday's New York Daily News front page... Chris Matthews on MSNBC after the story broke regarding AG Jeff Sessions and the Russians: "We're only learning the truth of all these endless meetings with the Russians because of good reporting... We're getting great print coverage by the hour. And that's the only reason this administration is admitting things."... Columbia Journalism Review held a Washington conference Friday on covering Trump with panelists from various media outlets, including Breitbart News. CJR's wrap-up.... Trump had dinner this week with 18 reporters from six selected regional and local TV networks... The Trump bump in subscriptions and support extends across many media outlets, industry analyst Ken Doctor writes. Trump "has become the greatest source of lead generation the American press has ever seen, his campaign and then election inspiring hundreds of thousands of Americans to rush to buy digital news subscriptions and memberships." The NYT, the New Yorker and The Atlantic all report record subscriber jumps... Craigslist founder Craig Newmark announced a $1 million gift to ProPublica... Meanwhile, Warren Buffett told CNBC that he thinks newspapers are in for even worse days — and predicts only the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have a secure digital future... But there's this: Patrick Soon-Shiong paid an estimated $13.87 million for another 950,000 shares of Tronc stock, buying the shares from Oaktree. Who would bet against the doctor owning the LA Times someday?

Noted: Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he has stepped aside as host of "Celebrity Apprentice," citing the TV show's "baggage." It's not clear, however, that the once-popular show would continue anyway. The Hollywood Reporter... The New York Times has redesigned pages A2 and A3 as “a quick and engaging roundup" that borrows from the web. "If it feels a bit like a magazine’s front-of-the-book material — little bits and bites of content, a series of amuse-bouches for the main entrée to follow — that’s intentional," says Nieman Lab... Tom Hanks gifted the White House press corps with a new espresso machine, and not for the first time... The incompetence of the PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants in the Oscars flub was stunning, says the show's floor manager. The smoking gun tweeting pics in Variety... Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith catches hell from Trump fans... Spy magazine co-founder Kurt Andersen and Alec Baldwin will team up to write a book of satire: “You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump.” Baldwin will voice the audio version... Disney's Bob Iger just might run for president... Octavia Spencer hosts "Saturday Night Live" this weekend... As many reporters know, private citizen Donald Trump was the king of anonymous sources... Be suspicious of online movie ratings — especially Fandango's, says FiveThirtyEight... ICYMI: Why the New York Times fired theater critic Charles Isherwood from Vulture.

Pro tips: How The Media Are Using Encryption Tools To Collect Anonymous Tips. NPR... 3 (free) things that journalists can do right now to protect their data and their sources at the border... And what it takes to truly delete data... 10 tools to tackle common problems journalists face, from CJR... The Institute for Nonprofit News based here is offering a new program of legal resources for nonprofit newsrooms, particularly in defense cases.

Local beat: More cost cutting at the LA Daily Journal: Reporters will no longer get tips and background docs on interesting court cases via Courtlink. "This will mean that reporters needing state court documents must find another way to get them," says the newsroom memo from editor David Houston. "This is a good time for reporters to renew their networking skills.... The best way to get cases is by having attorneys tip you off. A large part of your day every day should be spent on the telephone with attorneys."

Media people doing stuff

lisa-mcree.jpgLisa McRee, the former "Good Morning America" and "SoCal Connected" host, filled in this week on "Good Day LA" on Fox 11... James Nash, the former reporter for Bloomberg, the Daily News, LA Business Journal and others, is back in City Hall (well, CH East) as the director of communications for Controller Ron Galperin. His name is on a flurry of press releases out of the office this week. City Hall spokeswoman Vicki Curry marked five years in the mayor's press office since coming over from KCET, where she was a producer... Channel 5 reporter, producer and writer Gayle Anderson was saluted by the City Council on Tuesday. "When Gayle Anderson emerges out of the KTLA news van, we know something good is happening in our districts,” Councilman Joe Buscaino said. I guess she can't cover them any more... Debra Mark, recently of KPCC, is the new news anchor for talkers John & Ken on KFI, per LA Radio... Where KCRW deejay Travis Holcombe likes to eat after midnight... Steve Chawkins, formerly of the LA Times, on the dying art of obituary writing... LA Times Pulitzer winner Diana Marcum has been off in the Azores writing a book, but sounds like she's wrapping up and heading home to the Fresno area... "The Fat Man Returns: The Elusive Hunt for California Bohemia and Other Matters" is a new book by LA reporter Lionel Rolfe... How ‘Lakers Insider’ Mike Bresnahan navigates his beat for Spectrum SportsNet... Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor at The New Yorker since 1997, will retire on May 1.

hallie-jackson-and-welker.jpgFrom Washington: A Vogue feature on women in the Washington press corps features, among others, NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson, Univision White House correspondent Julie Rodriguez and (right) NBC White House correspondents Hallie Jackson and Kristen Welker... Vogue also has a piece on Latinas in Los Angeles and on (here's a reach) How LA Chicano History Is Being Told—And Reclaimed—Through Fashion... Jose Antonio Vargas, the undocumented reporter who was affiliated with the LA Times for a while in 2015 and '16, watched President Trump's address to Congress as a guest of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Media obituary: Chez Pazienza, Los Angeles-based editor-at-large of the Daily Banter, died "smoking heroin in his car in Los Angeles this past weekend." More from Ben Cohen, the site's founder and editor. Fans and friends react on Facebook.

Politics and governing

A "broad-based L.A. Jewish coalition forms to respond to Trump actions," says the Jewish Journal. Ex-Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, former congressman Mel Levine and attorney Janice Kamenir-Reznik, among others, are on the steering committee... Gabriel Kahn in Los Angeles Magazine on the influence of Richard Close and the Sherman Oaks Homeowner Association: "Some might find it ironic that Close, a man who is highly critical of those in power, has led SOHA almost as long as Castro led Cuba. He maintains that “no one else wants the job,” and it’s clear that the organization owes its heft to him. 'Richard has built it into a force,' says Raphael Sonenshein, the director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles. 'Anyone who wants to make a mark in local politics should learn from him.'"

Tuesday election: Los Angeles and many cities in the county will hold municipal elections on March 7. In LA, it's Eric Garcetti's first stand for reelection as mayor, and he's declining to promise to complete his second term if he gets it — or to hold the traditional end of year presser on crime stats (now that they are going up.)... Garcetti talked to Adam Nagourney in the NYT, and Richard Riordan says: "He has no courage to take chances. He is essentially in favor of gentrifying the city, which is going to leave no room for the working poor.” Also in the Hollywood Reporter: Garcetti on How He's Helped Hollywood... With Garcetti widely expected to win reelection, "media attention is already turning to the Democrat's next big move (2018 governor or U.S. Senate, take your pick of the pundit fantasies)," writes Carla Marinucci et al in Friday's California Playbook from Politico... Garcetti's press conference this week to reveal the future of Angels Flight was interrupted by walk ons:

Some politics is local: The City Council denied historical-cultural landmark status for the Bob Hope home in Toluca Lake. Hope's daughter opposed any designation. There are development plans for the estate on Moorpark Street. Curbed LA... KPCC's Mary Plummer: In LA City Council District 1, incumbent Gil Cedillo faces serious challenge... The LA Times covers the South Los Angeles race in Curren Price's City Council district through the black-brown lens. Also the challenge to Paul Koretz on the Westside...

State Senate leader Kevin de Leon's public biography has undergone some edits in recent weeks. His birth certificate says he was born Kevin Alexander Leon, to a Guatemalan mother and part Chinese father. He's registered to vote under that name, but changed to De Leon recently. De Leon told the Sacramento Bee that he was born in Los Angeles, raised in a "culturally Mexican neighborhood" in San Diego, and went back and forth across the border into Tijuana. But he's not actually Mexican, and that's a change from the origin story that has been part of De Leon's bio for years. This week he accepted an invitation to join the legislature's California Asian and Pacific Islander caucus.

South Bay and Westside Rep. Ted Lieu is staking out a position as a loud bullhorn against Donald Trump. Lieu called via Twitter for prosecution of Jeff Sessions over his testimony on not meeting with any Russian officials during the election campaign. Also this late Friday:

For the calendar

On April 17, Writers Bloc is going outside its usual book and author events to put on a special panel on freedom of the press in the age of Donald Trump. I will be the moderator and the panelists scheduled are Adam Nagourney, LA bureau chief of the New York Times; Cathleen Decker, politics columnist at the LA Times; and Dylan Byers, CNN's LA-based senior reporter for media and politics. The event will be at the Ann & Jerry Moss Theater at New Roads School in Santa Monica. Tickets are $20.


• Angels Flight is promised to reopen by Labor Day under a new operator announced Wednesday by Garcetti and other officials. The Planning Report

• The City of Los Angeles closed escrow on the 42-acre G2 parcel, considered the "crown jewel," of the $1.6 billion effort to restore the LA River. Urbanize LA

• Last summer's fire-delayed 626 Golden Streets will take place on Sunday: 18 miles of closed streets for biking and walking, CicLAvia style, through seven cities more or less along the Gold Line route through the San Gabriel Valley. SGV Tribune

• The old Los Feliz pronunciation debate comes around again. KPCC Take Two

• "Norse Mythology" by Neil Gaiman is the top-selling fiction hardcover in SoCal independent bookstores this week. "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance remains the nonfiction bestseller. More

• The Santa Monica City Council approved the first steps toward shortening the runway at the city's airport. City release

• With fiery determination, a Chatsworth woman fulfills dream to become an LA firefighter. DN

• Marina Zenovich''s new documentary, "Water & Power: A California Heist," looks at the privatization of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley. NYT

• Magic Door Used Books in Pomona now has a bookstore cat, not by plan. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

• 20 of LA's most iconic murals. LA Weekly

• Growing mussels and giant kelp in San Pedro at the first offshore shellfish ranch in federal waters. KCET

• Behold the Cheeseburger Taco, a South LA staple since 1949. Eater LA

• How Cambodians became the kings of beloved South L.A. fried chicken chain. LA Times

• Yeah, the water damage to the main Oroville Dam spillway is substantial. (And the next issue could be an earthquake triggered by the reservoir's rapid refilling, per the LAT.)


Selected tweets








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