Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I happened to notice two beefy business stories wind up on the LAT Web site yesterday at 5:30 or so. One was the huge restatement at Broadcom and the other was an update on the Tribune Co. sale. They were the kinds of stories - notable but not jaw-dropping - that would rarely, if ever, make it to LATimes.com that early. So here comes word that the Times is doing what Publisher David Hiller said it would do: jump on breaking news for its Web site. Editor James O'Shea announced the overhaul before hundreds of newsroom folk at Harry Chandler Auditorium and named biz editor Russ Stanton to the newly created position of editor for innovation. O'Shea stressed the importance of speed in overhauling an operation that he called "woefully behind" the competition. Apparently, that comment reflects the conclusion of the Spring Street Committee, the group of journalists that was formed last year to assess the paper's future. James Rainey offers some details in a lengthy story posted on LATimes.com:
The Spring Street committee, named after the Times' downtown address, began its work in October and produced a scathing report that has been seen by only a few of the newspapers top editors and executives. "To put it bluntly," the seven-page report found, "as a news organization, we are not web-savvy. If anything, we are web-stupid."
The committee found that LATimes.com lacked assertive leadership, adequate staffing (18 employees compared with 200 at the Wash Post), up-to-date technology, and the wherewithal to quickly get news on the Web. "When the Los Angeles Unified School District named a new superintendent, news aggregators like Google and Yahoo chose the AP story over ours," the Spring Street report says. "Ours was better but AP was first." There's a lot of other interesting stuff in Rainey's story - and no doubt in the report. By the way, newsroom buzz has Deputy Biz Editor Davan Maharaj succeeding Stanton as biz editor.