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LAT's man for a day (kind of)

I was critical of the L.A. Times web feature where reporter William Lobdell does somebody else's job for a few hours then writes (and videos) as if he knows something about it. But not everyone agrees.

 He was a lifeguard at Huntington Beach city beach 30 years ago. At least his story was a realistic portrayal of some of the things that lifeguards do. The media rarely gets it right when it comes to lifeguards and ocean sports. A few years ago an LAT reporter wrote that a man who fell off his yacht off Palos Verdes was rescued by lifeguards from the Baywatch lifeguard service. In reality, he was rescued by LA County lifeguards. The name of every boat in the LACO fleet is Baywatch along with name of its base (BW Cabrillo, BW Avalon, BW Isthmus, BW Malibu...). I still wonder if it is a common thing for journalists to not know the difference between TV and real life.

Twenty years ago I was a guard at HB City and worked with Panis and Lindo. Lindo, an African American, is the Chief Lifeguard now. I quit after I refused to do a rehearsed bit for the show Emergency 911. After that I worked summers for Los Angeles County. My point is that I was proud of being a lifeguard and thought my job was important. Maybe Lobdell's bit is cheesy to those in journalism, but at least he didn't misrepresent the facts in his lifeguard segment.

Mike Harnish

Wednesday, September 26 2007 • Link • Email this post • Submit an email
Tip of his hat to a good paragraph

This came in regarding Times reporter Peter Hong's coverage today of the Phil Spector trial...

 "Wednesday's court session had hardly begun when former Hollywood madam Jody "Babydol" Gibson, who served 22 months in prison for running a prostitution ring, arrived. Heads snapped as the leggy blond entered the courtroom in a navy suit with a deeply plunging neckline and a trace of a skirt peeping from the hemline of her jacket, her stiletto heels clicking with each step."

Somewhere, I hope Hecht and MacArthur are hoisting a martini to L.A. Timesman Peter Y. Hong for that great 'graph. And someone should buy a drink for the editor that was hip enough to let it pass, or so asleep at the switch that he didn't notice. Either way, that's real newspaper reporting, godammit.

Rick Fleishman

Thursday, July 19 2007 • Link • Email this post • Submit an email
Jeff Wald leaves KTLA

Regarding Wald's decision to step down as News Director at Channel 5...

 As long as I’ve known Jeff Wald – going back nearly 25 years now, soon after I started my own broadcasting career – he has functioned as the conscience of the business, the role model for a conscientious and responsible news executive in a industry where increasingly all the financial and professional incentives drive newsroom decision-making in a suicidal race to the bottom. He’s been an unfailingly courteous, decent and serious guy in an industry that could be most charitably described as alarmingly deficient in those qualities.

Ordinarily it would generate a cynical snicker to hear that a media executive suddenly left his job “to spend more time with his family” – but Jeff deserves nothing but praise and respect from his journalism colleagues and his viewers for making a difficult but honorable decision. I know I’m not alone in wishing him well in all of his future endeavors.

Joel Bellman

Tuesday, July 17 2007 • Link • Email this post • Submit an email
Front page ads

Times Publisher David Hiller promises that front page ads will be tasteful and not schlocky...

 Who are they kidding? These guys from Chicago wouldn't know a good ad if it bit them on the backside. Readers all across the Southland now have schlocky ads on the front page of the LATimes dancing in their heads and the bad news is that those imagined ads won't be nearly as schlocky as what the Times deems okay to run.

As for communicating well and reader reaction being okay? That further drop in circulation should remind the folks in Chicago that we aren't interested in ads on the front page, fashion, celebrity sightings and all those other superficial things they think we are interested in. We want the news: local, national and international, well told and well presented.

Otis Chandler understood this. Why is it so hard for the guys from Chicago to understand it?

Lynn Zook
Sherman Oaks

Monday, July 16 2007 • Link • Email this post • Submit an email
No fun at the fireworks

Not everyone agrees with Erik Himmelbach's disappointed take on the Studio City fireworks show.

 Hey. I, and several of my neighbors, watched the CBS Studio City 4th of July fireworks from the comfort of our own apartment balconies on Ben Avenue just north of the 101. Been doing this for years.
And the fireworks this year were better than ever.

Also from our vantage point, we can see a bit of the Hollywood Bowl works to the southeast and two other [poor] displays, one to the north and one to the northeast.

All for free.

Tell "no fun at the fireworks" to try getting a vantage place on top of a local building next year....or go into the hills above Studio City.

Roz Mandelcorn
Valley Village

Sunday, July 8 2007 • Link • Email this post • Submit an email
Reyner Banham loves Los Angeles

Last week's link to the Google video of Reyner Banham's 1972 visit provided some delight to at least one reader:

 Wow. All I can say is wow. I am SO appreciative and happy you decided to post this.

I have watched almost every syndicated episode of The Rockford Files to see images of what Los Angeles used to look like. It's like, "oh man, there was a gas station there?" and "Wow, that place is the Standard Hotel now!" For hours I do this, and lament how homogenized the LA landscape has become, with corporations, not Mom-N-Pop operations, building most new sites.

And then there's that whole thing where developers tear down the old apartment buildings and build bland sleek ones so they can exploit a loop-hole in the rent control laws. Pretty soon, it could all be gone.

Still, there are some signs of life (you can't watch the footage of Venice in the early 70s and not feel like Echo Park today is something like the same kind of place.)

Here's to hoping LA can retain or reinvent some of its former character.

Thanks again!

Diallo Riddle

Sunday, July 8 2007 • Link • Email this post • Submit an email
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