When LA Times staffers worried about becoming USA Today

lost-times.jpgIt's ironic that Gannett is trying to get its hands on the company formerly known as Tribune Publishing (including, of course, the Los Angeles Times.) A little more than a quarter century ago, some upset Times employees sneaked an ad into their own classified section that warned about USA Today.

Their ad said:

Lost...LA Times. Last seen in a confused state disguised as USA Today. If found, please return to Times Mirror Square.

The Oct. 29, 1989 "Lost" notice, later mentioned in a Joan Didion piece in the New Yorker, followed the Times' adoption of a redesign that included boxed summaries of the sections. The summaries were evidently for readers who were guilty they couldn't read the entire newspaper.

"The new faster-format Los Angeles Times," the newspaper called it.

"READ THIS," Times newsracks said. "QUICK."

Then-Times Editor Shelby Coffey, asked about the sarcastic ad by New York magazine in 1989, said: "It made me laugh. Change always produces anxiety and it's healthy for people to have a chance to ventilate."

Whatever, one thing seems certain now: If the Gannett folks take over the Times and Tronc, they won't bother to wear disguises.

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