My dear friend Betty Bumpers, wife of former Senator Dale and a wonderful rowdy activist in her own right, once said of another Senator who shall go unnamed that he talked so much, his motto must be, "Let no thought go unuttered." I think of Betty now every time I look at the front page of the Los Angeles Time and find myself paraphrasing her words because I can only assume the paper’s new mantra is "Let no font go unused."
What are they thinking? There is no place to rest your eyes. In the movies, you can always tell when they are using phony money. Well, the Times front page now looks like a phony newspaper, mocked up for amusement, not even trying to pass as the real thing. You have to fight the blinking that occurs trying to focus to see what is being covered. Is that the point? Is it a diversion so we won’t notice that there are front page articles on motor cycle racing in Malaysia instead of something that actually might be making a difference in our life in the southland? Their election coverage has seemed predominantly reactive – taking their cues from charges that have been floating around to see if they stick - such as the front page story that those supporting Proposition 87 might actually financially benefit from alternative energy if it passes. Isn’t that shocking! Imagine someone benefiting from alternative energy. No mention of course of the massive profits of the oil companies that are backing the opposition. For that you have to turn to a back section article and even you have to turn to D6 to see that oil companies are the ones leading the financial contributions to the opposition. Perish the thought that instead of all those column inches devoted to motorcycles, we might get a thoughtful analysis of the history of the initiative process and how it has been increasingly bastardized, bought out and generally abused over the past few decades.
I have vague childhood memories of newspapers actually putting something like “Election Day” on the front page above the fold on those Tuesdays supposedly so crucial to a functioning democracy. The Times hasn’t done so for years. When I asked John Carroll about it, he said "It’s a thought" and when I emailed Dean Baquet about it, I didn’t even receive a response. I wouldn’t presume to suggest a more active word such as "Vote" be used, but putting "Election Day" above the fold — in any font — would also underscore a pact between the newspaper and its readers that they shared a sense of community, a reminder the paper could certainly use.