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July 02, 2004

LAT Well Runs Dry

I keep hearing evidence of wincing as journalist after journalist is leaving the LAT. The wincing seems to be coming more from the journalists remaining than the readership. Being of neither cast I note in passing that this run is probably not such a good thing. Yet I find it difficult to muster up a tear.

As I cozy up to the LA Observed blog, wedding myself ever closer to the appeal of the local, I feel a twinge of guilt for not giving the LAT much of my reading time, but my disposition of indifference has evolved over a long period. In the same way that most notable bloggers must feel, I've always felt a lack of depth and feeling in newspapers - that reading them engages so little of the person, that the journalist's discipline weeds out so much of human experience that they are incapable of truly informing. Sure there's information and oftimes its the only place it can be reliably found, but now that we get it, so what? The LAT was not egregious in that respect, but it had killed the Examiner which had spunk. Now the NYT seems to be bleeding the LAT. The cycle continues?

I do read the NYT on the regular as I do the WSJ. Blogs fill a great deal more of my news diet than before when I hung out more regularly at the Well and Brainstorms. Still, I'm well enough informed so that only the creative pieces at NPR are news to me - the big media rehash is predictable.

The LAT is a large paper, and reading it today reveals a whole lot of paper with a great deal of local content which is unique and interesting, but not much else. I can't imagine missing out on any national story by reading only the NYT and the WSJ.

When I moved to New York in 1991, I found their coverage of Los Angeles issues to be worse than abhorrent. Their entire spin on Los Angeles and California politics was so horribly misinformed that it proved practically unreadable. However, when it came to front page news, I was pleasantly surprised to find a better quality of writing. Still, I must confess that I fell in love with the NY Observer - a kind of paper LA could definitely use.

So if the LAT is doomed to be a local newspaper, then that's something I can abide considering the depth of writing here in the blogosphere. I feel sorry for folks who still depend on their dogs to carry in their primary source of news and information, as romantic as that must be. I think the best thing that can be said for the LAT is its standing as a steady employer of good writers who would otherwise go to seed and seedy publications. The whole is less than the sum of its parts, but it's a goodly aggregated thing.

Posted by mbowen at July 2, 2004 04:10 PM

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