LA Observed is a website devoted to independent reporting, informed commentary and selective linkage on Los Angeles news, media, politics, business, books and other topics. The site went live in May 2003 and is read daily by an influential audience that includes journalists, executives, community leaders, politicians, authors, bloggers and others interested in Los Angeles.
Below are answers to some questions about the site. If yours isn't answered, please email the editor.
Kevin Roderick is the founder, editor and publisher. He writes the editor's blog on the home page and has written most of the posts that have appeared on the site. For more on Kevin, look here. For the LA Observed masthead, look here.
Los Angeles and Southern California media, news, politics, business, culture, books and the people who engage in those pursuits are the main subjects. Like a good print magazine, the topics can range widely. History, architecture, food, art, Hollywood, travel, driving, neighborhoods, urban culture, style, sports and the natural environment all come up.
We're happy to be called a blog, news site, web magazine, online journal — any label you prefer. Much of what we do is journalism, some of it practiced by award-winning journalists, some by writers and bloggers who would not call themselves journalists. We're pleased that readers value LA Observed for informed, honest and independent reporting and commentary.
More than a dozen authors, journalists, writers, critics and observers of the city post on the site. Some have written best-selling books, and as a group they have written for Vanity Fair, Esquire, Los Angeles, Spy, New York, Forbes, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Audubon, Village Voice, Buzz, Black Clock, Variety and Television Week, the New York Times, Washington Post, New York Observer and most of the larger Los Angeles newspapers and weeklies. Their online credits include Slate, Salon, the Huffington Post, Truthdig and other websites. For details or contact information, see the authors page.
All kinds. Their common values are passion for news, insight and information about Los Angeles and the city's players and public life. LA Observed is read daily all over Los Angeles, as well as in the mayor's suite, the editors' offices at the Los Angeles Times, at publishing houses in New York and in newsrooms around the country.
LA Observed has been mentioned in the New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, New York Observer, Los Angeles Daily News, L.A. Business Journal, LA Weekly, CityBeat, Los Angeles Independent, Studio City Sun, Downtown News, San Jose Mercury and Sacramento Bee. Online, the site has been cited by major news websites, Romenesko, BoingBoing, Opinion Journal, Instapundit, Gawker, Slate, Salon, Defamer, Deadline Hollywood Daily, Talking Points Memo, Kausfiles, Andrew Sullivan, Hugh Hewitt, The Huffington Post, I Want Media, Mediabistro, Editor & Publisher, National Review Online, Washington Monthly, Cyberjournalist, LAist, Fishbowl LA, Hit & Run, The Roundup, National Journal's Hotline and the Online Journalism Review — among many others.
Forbes magazine named LA Observed a Best of the Web media blog. NewsBank chose LA Observed as the first blog in the country to be included in its research databases for libraries and academic research institutions. Kevin has won a Golden Mike for his weekly LA Observed commentaries on KCRW-FM, and was honored for his leadership of LA Observed by the Society of Professional Journalists. As a general practice, LA Observed does not enter journalism contests.
Our attitude might be a tad subtle for some tastes. We like it that way, and readers tell us they like that LA Observed respects the intelligence and sophistication of visitors to the site. We think the blogosphere is big enough for all manner of personalities and writing styles. LA Observed is written to inform and occasionally entertain, rarely to advocate, anger or persuade. If posts provoke discussion that's great, but we're satisfied to be regarded as informative, useful and trustworthy.
Several items are typically posted every day, except on some weekends and holidays.
Four million people live in Los Angeles, at the center of a region inhabited by more than fifteen million. A lot happens out there, only some of which ever gets reported by the hundreds of paid reporters who work this city. LA Observed feels a bit outnumbered, but flattered to be asked.
We pick our spots, with a native's skepticism and a journalist's bias toward illuminating what is really going on. We assume that our readers need no introduction to most of the players in local media, culture and politics, and come to us to be pointed toward fresh angles. We think we cover a lot of bases, but we are always looking to improve.
Posts can be based on original reporting, tips from an array of sources or reports in other media. Whenever possible, links are provided to the relevant media. Suggestions and news tips are encouraged, and will only be used if the editor finds them credible and newsworthy.
We hear a lot of media and politics gossip — and would be happy to hear more — but in the end relatively little gets into our posts. For us to treat pure gossip as blogworthy, we need to believe it might be true and have a good reason to publish it. We try to make clear when a post is based on gossip or speculation.
We know intimately the advantages and pitfalls of using unattributed information. Many LA Observed posts begin as tips from Los Angeles media and politics insiders who are known to us, but who wish to remain on background. We try to assess the motives of sources and the accuracy of the information before posting. We take our reputation for accuracy and credibility very seriously, so as a result most tips go unused.
We take promises of confidentiality very seriously. The editor will take all legal steps available to guard the identity of sources, and has a 30-year record of protecting sources. Sources and email correspondents who intentionally mislead forfeit protection and their communications will be considered on the record.
Errors are infrequent and regrettable, but they do happen. We correct errors of fact swiftly and transparently. Typos, misspellings and bad line breaks are fixed as soon as we catch them. More substantial mistakes will often be flagged so that readers will know a change has been made. Anyone who spots a mistake is encouraged to email the editor.
That indicates the entry has been significantly updated. Many readers who come back to LA Observed through the day find this practice helpful. In the first minutes after a post goes up, we may reword for clarity, accuracy or to fix an errant line break without adding the asterisk.
News rules. We report negative things about people we like and positive things about people we think are fools. If you don't like something we say, stick around — the next item might go your way. That said, if you believe your side is always right and the other sides are hopelessly lame, you'll probably be disappointed by LA Observed's political coverage. Cheer up, though. You likely have an equally convinced double at the opposite end of the political spectrum. When it comes to elections, the editor views them less as morality plays, and more as contests of strategy, tactics, media manipulation, voter persuasion, ego, personnel management and execution.
Contributors who post at LA Observed are not edited. They are free to express whatever political opinions they hold. None were invited to contribute based on their politics, but those whose biases are known to the editor lean left.
The Times remains the most prolific — and on many days the best — source of original reporting in the region. The Times is also the largest local employer of journalists, and one role of LA Observed is to inform readers what their friends, colleagues and rivals are doing.
On some days, the NYT has the best original reporting on Los Angeles. The paper covers Southern California more intensively and knowledgeably than any other national media outlet, and what the New York Times reports strongly influences other media and the culture. The NYT also remains the best overall newspaper in the country, in the editor's opinion.
It's not our intent. We observe the city and its media, and will critique a story or coverage when it's warranted.
In the first sixteen months of the site's existence, more than 8,000 comments were posted by readers. They remain viewable in the archives. Posting of new comments was turned off in August 2004 due to the workload of keeping up with commercial and political spammers. So many readers expressed relief at the cleaner tone of the site that comments have remained closed. Feedback from readers is often incorporated into posts, and thoughtful signed email is posted at the Feedback page.
We assume that LAO readers are serious media consumers who have made their peace with the registration obstacles at leading news sites. If we link to a new site with an exotic requirement, we try to let people know before they click.
Technically speaking, LA Observed is published using Movable Type software and is hosted at Total Choice Hosting. RSS feeds are available in all major formats. Content is licensed by Newsbank and indexed by Google, Yahoo, Technorati and all major search engines. Every post since day one remains accessible through the LA Observed archives.
Mostly you just have to ask. If your blog is regularly updated and the editor thinks it would inform or amuse LA Observed readers, he'll link to it. If it's racist, offensive or in his sole opinion isn't worth the electrons used to publish it, he won't. Visit the links page for more information.
Like many blogs, LA Observed disabled the trackback function because of spammer abuse.
No. What you may have received is an email that "spoofed" a return address from LA Observed. It is fake. We don't send email with attachments. If you receive one, delete it without opening.
Email is the best way to send a news tip, compliment or complaint: firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have a mailing address for books, magazines and other business that can't fit through the email slot:
11664 National Blvd. #106
Los Angeles, CA 90064