Happy Birthday, LA Now

A year ago today the breaking news blog, LA Now, which the LA Times hired me to help create, went public. We'd been blogging in the dark for a month or so, first on one of my Typepad templates, then hidden away (but readers still found us) in a corner of LA Times.com. The idea was to live-blog breaking news, share the essential info about a wildfire or school brawl or political meltdown, then follow up with the fully reported and edited and bylined news story. In between we'd link to other blogs and newspapers, call reporters and bloggers by name, highlight the media landscape here in SoCal.

Jesus Sanchez (LAT Layoff Class of July '08), my partner in the blog, made it possible for LA Now to publish a new post every 45 minutes, from the early-morning news round-up until we signed off each evening. What drew readers? Taco trucks, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Prop 8, grisly crime news, morbidly obese cats -- yes. Stories about budgets and zoning and the LA County supes -- not so much.

And then Jesus got laid off and I got laid off and, because LA Now was a great idea, an essential idea, because returning readers embraced it and new readers kept finding it, it grew. LA Now was 8 millionth in Technorati when we launched it. That means 8 million blogs were more popular than LA Now. By the time I got the boot, LA Now was ranked in the top 4,000 blogs, amazing growth. Today it's in the top 1,000 (No. 922, at this moment) and still rising.

It's not the same, of course, but a mere year later, neither is this world. Our LA Now was an ongoing conversation about California, with photos and links and context and commentary. The new LA Now is like a 21st century teletype, a flood of stories and snippets and alerts and updates coming from every corner of the newsroom. Our LA Now was like a mirror of the region, how we saw ourselves, how others saw us. The new LA Now is more like a membrane, passing along as much news as possible, as fast as possible.

What's next? Nothing very good, judging from the newspapers of all sizes crashing and burning all around us, but here's hoping LA Now will still be around to report it. Congratulations to the battered and beleaguered reporters and editors at the LA Times who have kept the blog going. And happy birthday, LA Now.

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