Tronc buys (NY) Daily News, La Tuna fire aftermath and more

garcetti-latuna-fire.jpgMayor Eric Garcetti and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas at the LA Tuna Fire command post on Sunday. From the mayor's Twitter feed.

Our occasional roundup of news and notes, from media sources and our in-box. As always, between posts you can keep up with LA Observed on Twitter — now with 24,515 followers.

Tronc buys the NY Daily News

nydn-tronc-buys-crop.jpgThe parent company of the Los Angeles Times announced Monday it is acquiring the tabloid New York Daily News. This pickup, for $1 plus liabilities, gives Tronc a much larger web voice and a media foothold in New York to go along with its papers in Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as in smaller cities. a NYT story, Tronc release, NYDN, WSJ. From the NYT story:
The deal represents the end of an era for The News, which was long a voice for New York’s working class. It may also signal the end of the political influence of its owner, the real estate magnate Mortimer B. Zuckerman, who often used the paper’s bold, front-page headline — known as “the wood” — for commentary about candidates and politicians, locally and nationally.

The News once boasted A-list columnists including Liz Smith, Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, but it has been worn down by a grinding tabloid war with the Rupert Murdoch-controlled New York Post. And like the rest of the newspaper industry, The News has been battered and bruised by the internet age, when the equivalent of pithy headlines — a staple of The News — come a mile a minute on Twitter.

Sweeping layoffs have reduced its staff. The paper’s circulation, which exceeded two million a day in the 1940s, is now in the low hundred thousands. And The Chicago Tribune reported on Monday that Tronc purchased The News for just $1, plus the assumption of liabilities.

But while The News wields less influence than it once did, it still has the power to resonate in the city and beyond. This year, the paper and ProPublica shared the Pulitzer Prize for public service for a series on the New York Police Department’s widespread abuse of eviction rules. And its pointed headlines, particularly about President Trump — a longtime real estate rival of Mr. Zuckerman — still attract attention, particularly on social media.

What becomes of the Dreamers?

Signs are that President Trump will buy some political time and send Attorney General Jeff Sessions out on Tuesday to announce a six-month continuation of the Obama order that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections for children who were brought to the U.S. illegally. The White House thinking is to then get Congress to hammer out a palatable solution and avert countless personal and family tragedies from getting affixed to Trump — and perhaps squeeze some kind of funding deal for Trump's Mexican border wall out of the issue.

Trump boxed himself in during the campaign by firing up his anger base by promising to send the Dreamers back (to countries many of them don't remember), only to get in office and learn these are real people with success stories and strong support across America. And among more Republicans in Congress than the Trumpsters expected, even though it is Republican governors pressuring Trump to kill Obama's executive order. Democrats are saying they will stick with the Dreamers all the way.

LA Times story, Washington Post, New York Times

LA Times Sacramento bureau chief John Myers: "Data suggests more than one of every four #DACA participants lives here in CA. Their fate will likely resonate in all corners of the state."

Covering Harvey

Mainstream media outlets did a tremendous job covering every angle of Hurricane Harvey — so much so that even lame Trump-sector attempts to criticize the media ended up citing good reporting. The hometown Houston Chronicle and TV stations have led the way. Vernon Loeb, the LAT alumnus who is managing editor of the Houston Chronicle, says this piece by three of his reporters is "the one, compelling blockbuster about Hurricane Harvey" to read — Fifty-one inches: Terror, heartbreak and heroism as five souls brave the worst storm in U.S. history... Also: Chronicle reporter is one of the thousands to lose their vehicles in the flood.

The LA Times team on the ground in Houston also drew plaudits from media colleagues and readers. Reporters Matt Pearce and Molly Hennessey-Fiske have been must-read Twitter posters during the coverage. Photojournalist Robert Gauthier has been prolific and posted this dramatic footage of driving down a Houston street on Monday:

Also noted:
• Info graphics to applaud - How water damages a house by the Washington Post, and mapping calls for rescue help by the New York Times.

• Harry Shearer, a critic of a lot that happened during and after Hurricane Katrina, discussed Harvey on CNN's Reliable Sources.

• Wired: Above devastated Houston, armies of drones prove their worth

• Yasiel Puig's foundation has donated $20,000 to Houston relief efforts.

Covering the La Tuna Fire

huffpost-fire-banner.jpgMonday's early morning rain dousing all but put out the La Tuna Fire and stopped the acreage count at 7,003 — the revised number fire officials announced late Sunday. Here's a nice story by ABC7 on neighbors helping out a family that lost its home.

The HuffPost banner above shows how crazy some in the media went based on the Saturday morning quip from Mayor Eric Garcetti (and fire chief Ralph Terrazas) that this was the biggest fire by acreage in Los Angeles city history. They knew that it's more a function of the quirky city limits than the scale of the fire, but the distinction quickly got lost in the translation. As I said in my LA Observed segment Monday on KCRW, even many people who live here think everything you see around here is "Los Angeles." And they've seen previous much bigger and more destructive fires, and hear this one is the "biggest," and they go with that. Must be huge.

Anyway, the LA Tuna Fire (of 2017) thankfully got fought back before turning into a major disaster, and likely won't make any historical list of biggest or worst LA area fires, despite being technically the "biggest" within the city limits. It burned brush, not neighborhoods. Here's my rundown on the actual worst fires from the past.

Media notes

rob-eshman-jj.jpgBig change at the Jewish Journal: Longtime editor-in-chief and publisher Rob Eshman announced last week that he will step down on Sept. 26. The stated reason is that Eshman, 57, wants to work on a food book based on his food blog Foodaism and more movie projects. He will be succeeded as top editor by David Suissa, the president of the Jewish Journal's parent Tribe Media. The JJ's story says that Eshman initiated talks about a change in July. He has been editor since 2000, and publisher since 2009. Eshman has guided the weekly's strong criticism of Donald Trump and its positions on Israeli issues and other topics — sometimes controversial in the LA Jewish community — and it's unclear how the content will change. Says the JJ:

While Eshman leans left and Suissa right, the two wrote often-opposing columns and the Journal came even more to reflect—and combine—strongly divergent voices that would otherwise stay secluded in separate media bubbles.

During the 2016 Iran nuclear deal, which Eshman supported and Suissa opposed, their ability to spar publicly while maintaining a close friendship and partnership drew media attention.

“L.A. Jewish Journal’s heads spar over Iran deal, but stay friendly,” read a headline in the Times of Israel....

Asked to name highlights of his tenure, Eshman pointed to two. In 2015, Islamic terrorists in Paris massacred the staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine for printing cartoons they found offensive. The Journal renamed the Jan. 16 masthead of the paper, “Jewish Hebdo,” and ran the offending cartoons inside.

A year later, Eshman oversaw the first poll of American Jewish opinion during the Iran nuclear deal. It found most American Jews supported a deal that the vast majority of Jewish organizations, as well as Israel’s Prime Minister, opposed. The results reverberated internationally, and the White House acknowledged the Jewish Journal as “One of the most widely read Jewish publications online.”

Elsewhere: Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic compiles More Than 100 Exceptional Works of Journalism from 2016 alone. It includes Framed, the serialized LA Times series by Christopher Goffard, and (personal recommendation) hockey enforcer John Scott's powerful piece for The Players Tribune: A Guy Like Me... From Politico Magazine: 50 Ideas Blowing Up American Politics (and the people behind them)... Regnery Publishing, the publisher of books by conservative authors such as Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Ann Coulter, says it will no longer recognize the New York Times bestseller lists... Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a paid columnist for Breitbart, via Mediaite... The New York Times is building out a new philanthropic arm in search of nonprofit funding for its journalism, from Nieman Lab... NBC 4's Fred Roggin on Twitter: "LA ratings for last nights preseason games minuscule. #Chargers-49ers beat #Rams-Packers by a tenth of a point. Neither really registered."... Juanita Greene forced her editors at the Miami Herald into creating an environment beat in 1969 and she earned a respected reputation in that field. Greene died at age 93. Herald obit.

And it turns out that Russia's Trump bots (or somebody's fake news bots) aren't too smart.

Media people doing stuff

breeze-winners.jpgWhen former South Bay school official Jose A. Fernandez was arrested last week on corruption charges, credit was due to former Daily Breeze reporters Rob Kuznia, Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci, whose investigation into Fernandez won a Pulitzer Prize in 2015... Former LA Times editorial writer Lisa Richardson op-eds that "I'm a black daughter of the Confederacy, and this is how we should deal with all those General Lees."... NBC's James Rainey tweeted that "someone had to write about venomous, stinging #Fireants . So I stepped up."... Sean Spicer has signed with Worldwide Speakers Group... EJ Johnson Is ‘Not Just Some Other Rich Girl’: Magic Johnson’s son was outed as gay by TMZ, then became a reality show star. All of 25, he is now embracing his role as a gender-flouting role model. NYT Style... Tina Daunt, formerly on the politics beat for the LA Times and Hollywood Reporter, is the watchdog editor for the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs... Busy time for journalists in the Zocalo green room feature: The LA Times' Christina Bellantoni and Cindy Carcamo and the NYT's Jennifer Medina... Former @latimes film critic Carina Chocano explores how women are shaped by pop culture in her new book... Kirkus Review says of "The King of Lighting Fixtures," Daniel A. Olivas' latest coming Sept. 19, "Vignettes of Latino life in Los Angeles, reminiscent of Michael Tolkin’s 'The Player' in its sardonic range...Assured and perceptive, offering a view of another Southland from Chandler’s and Didion’s."... Geoffrey Baum, formerly of USC and the Sunnylands Institute, is the new director of media relations at the Milken Institute.

Matt Damon in THR on how Donald Trump was left on the cutting room floor of "Scent of a Woman:" "The deal was that if you wanted to shoot in one of his buildings, you had to write him in a part...You have to waste an hour of your day with a bullshit shot: Donald Trump walks in and Al Pacino’s like, “Hello, Mr. Trump!” — you had to call him by name — and then he exits. You waste a little time so that you can get the permit, and then you can cut the scene out."

Media obit: Boots LeBaron, a former Los Angeles Times copy boy and reporter, as well as actor, publicist, blogger and more, died at age 85. His paid obit in the Times is worth a read. In 2015, a friend wrote in the Daily Breeze that LeBaron was one of the most interesting men in the world.

Dodgers flailing

The Dodgers lost 13-0 Monday to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and here's what's interesting about that. The D-backs are the team chasing the Dodgers for first place in the NL West, and they have now won 11 games in a row. The Dodgers have lost nine of their last 10 games. The Dodgers still lead the division by 12½ games, but there are teams in baseball with bigger division leads, and the sport has a colorful history of over-cocky teams blowing big leads in September. Just saying. September could get very interesting.


Four days after its restart, Angels Flight is shut down for maintenance - LA Times

Crenshaw Line shows transit cuts both ways in housing crisis - KPCC

The Forgotten L.A. History of The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. - LA Weekly

An Iranian bookstore in Westwood closes after 36 years - LA Times

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian welcomed their first child, a girl, in West Palm Beach, Florida - U.S. Olympic Team

Netflix's New Film 'Long Shot', on a Dodgers Fan Accused of Murder, Looks Like a Must-Watch - Sports Illustrated

LA’s Bird Streets neighborhood now has a Hummingbird Place - Curbed LA

Peace, Love and Rockets: Amateur Rocketry in the Mojave - KCET

H&M’s Upscale COS Store Opens Inside Historic Theatre in Downtown LA - Brigham Yen

These 50 Museums Are Opening Their Doors for Free on Sept. 17 - Los Angeles Magazine

Selected tweets



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