A Violin For The L.A. Times

I'm generally unsympathetic to the decline of the newspaper industry in the last 10 years. It's largely their fault for producing a lackluster product with all the zing of a cookie cutter. For my money even though it is exactly the opposite of me politically, the only daily paper I find interesting is the NY Post. The NY Post often seems sometimes to be the only paper trying to get people to read it, no matter how bad or slanted the actual journalism is inside. Compared to the poll tested crap that is uncontroversial to the point of boredom for most other dailies around the country (South Florida Sun Sentinel, I'm talking about you) it is refreshing.

Throw into that mix this story from Harold Meyerson decrying the gutting Sam Zell is doing to the L.A. Times. I'm pretty sure Zell is going to screw this up, but my main objection is referring to the L.A. Times as a great paper. When has that been?

When I lived in L.A. I was pretty surprised to find that the L.A. Times was as banal as the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. Up until then I figured that this was a product of South Florida's mighty sleepy culture - but nobody ever accused L.A. of being a sleepy town. Yet, the most news the L.A. Times made was when they gave control over their Sunday magazine to the then-new Staples Center. Snooze.

The L.A. Times rarely breaks national stories. They are perfectly positioned to be the west coast newsbreakers in the way that the NY Times covers the national scene and the Washington Post covers the political scene - but they aren't.

Newspapers began jumping the shark when they began worshipping at the altar of objectivity so much that it took the life out of the paper. As noted above with the NY Post, I like a paper that takes a point of view - no matter how stupid - because it shows a sign of life. That's why people have been moving to online publications like Huffington Post and yes, Drudge. I recently went to the Newseum, and outside there is a display of the day's front pages - one from each state. I shook my head as I walked down the line, an endless parade of "news you can use" pablum that some consultant told the editors sells papers but seems to have the opposite effect.

Our papers need to get a life.