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Journalists are an arrogant lot.

Not that that's a bad thing. See, sometimes people need to be told what they need to know. A fair, functioning society depends on its members having the information they need to make smart choices and hold powerbrokers accountable. A healthy culture cannot thrive on a media diet of the Kardashians, Tebowing and the McRib.

Some journalists are too arrogant, but they're not the reason newspapers are dying. The reason, at least one really big reason, is that not enough newspapers are owned by locals of the market they serve. The reason is remote corporate masters who place profits so far above public service that the people in the executive suites think good journalism is giving people what they want. What about what they need?

In light of this week's announcement, I worry about my friends who still work at my former place of employment. The editor of the Tribune-owned Los Angeles Times warned that as many as 20 more editorial staffers will be cut loose early next year from the newspaper with the fifth-largest circulation in the U.S.

I worry about readers who still depend on careful reports framed in useful context, readers who want to be informed citizens who exercise their franchise, readers who care less about "trending" than about "news."

Today, the L.A. Times published a report on the op-ed page headlined "Didn't anyone edit this?" Its point was to assure readers that although errors will always find their way into the paper -- hey it is a deadline business -- every story is edited. But I worry that a paper capable of posting big circulation numbers might forget about readers who also expect it to retain a staff big enough to be able to pay attention.

Los Angeles Times Nov. 5, 2011 page A8
Employer confirms settlement in '99 Case
... Cain spoke to a Washington convention of conservative activists, giving no indication that he was distressed by the allegations.
So far, there has been no indication the allegations have harmed his campaign, which says donations have risen this week. ...

Los Angeles Times Nov. 5, 2011, page A9
Cain links latest controversy to race
But now that his campaign is floundering due to the emergence of sexual harassment allegations made when he ran the National Restaurant Assn. in the 1990s, Cain has advanced the idea...


More by Ellen Alperstein:
Magic mountain
The uneven playing field of workers' compensation
Horsing around in Del Mar
Two Jews walk into a Catskills hotel...
Continuing education at the county fair
Previous Native Intelligence story: Angeleno Datebook- November 4, 2011

Next Native Intelligence story: Robert Reich at Occupy L.A. *

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