Yesterday's 62% eclipse of the Southern California sun was accompanied by an eclipse of journalists at the L.A. Times that left only 66% of the news side editors shining brightly from the masthead.
As a longtime former employee of the LAT and a 30-year subscriber who is sad and frustrated over the paper's decline, I am not optimistic that the new regime installed by the Deep Thinkers at Tronc will effect any profound, positive change -- the explanatory flackery issued yesterday by Tronc executives reads like that of the previous deck-chair rearrangers.
But if Messrs. Dearborn and Levinsohn are truly sincere in their expressed desire to "invest more heavily in news in Washington, improve its culture report and its coverage of sports," this reader would like them to:
- Compete harder in national political coverage; actually break stories instead of making their chased versions of other papers' coverage pretty on the front page, then crowing about the design. Content matters.
- Question the wisdom of devoting the whole Calendar section to a single event ("Hamilton") that, as marvelous a production as it might be, is still a 2-year-old show that opened in New York and since has been covered since six ways from Sunday (see chasing above). Is this good judgment in the entertainment capital of the world?
- Return the sports section to journalistic credibility instead of fanboy pandering. The section sends a staffer to cover the Little League World Series but resorts to wire coverage for the Angels, who are still in contention for a playoff spot? The fourth-largest newsroom in the U.S. has only a single sports columnist, who's short on curiosity but long on soulless opinion? Install another strong voice into the sports columnist ranks, one with interests beyond the predictable, and the energy to pursue them.
- And, as some former LAT journalists chattering among themselves have suggested, Levinsohn and Dearborn should talk to former staffers who recently left the paper. Those wise resources are being wasted.