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Manhattan Beach Project
By Ed Driscoll · October 27, 2006 09:53 AM · Oh, That Liberal Media!

Cathy Seipp has some ideas on how to resuscitate the moribund L.A. Times, none of which will be listened to, of course, guaranteeing its fish-wrapping status for years to come:

A TV writer and former magazine editor I know, for instance, once told me he cancelled his L.A. Times subscription to get USA Today instead, which really seems pretty crazy. He added that he just wants the following three questions answered when he reads his morning paper: 1) How are the Dodgers doing? 2) Rain today? 3) What’s on TV?

“Those are the only three answers I want from American journalism,” he noted. “USA Today is perfect.”

Another complaint I’ve heard about my favorite paper is that it’s a mere tabloid compared to the Gray Lady. A few days after the 2003 recall election, for instance, even some insiders complained (off-record, of course) that with its investigation into the Arnold Schwarzenegger groping stories, the paper had become a dirt-digging tabloid.

But actually, I’d say L.A. could use a real tabloid, like the honestly biased New York Post, especially during free-for-all media events like the recall. Stories would run sooner, and with snappier headlines. During the recall, for instance, Times headlines often managed to be both typically dull and remarkably condescending, what with their habit of regularly referring to Schwarzenegger as “Actor” — “Actor Names Economic Team,” “Actor’s Team Sprints…,” and (my favorite) “Davis, Actor Go Head to Head.” That the stories themselves dug up dirt wasn’t the problem.

Then there’s the constant hand-wringing about mainstream media objectivity, which always strikes me as beside the point as well as impossible. A few years ago, for a story on blogging, I interviewed Washington Post associate editor and senior correspondent Robert Kaiser, co-author of a ponderous book about the media called The News About the News.

“I read things I think I should know, not other people’s opinions about what I should know,” Kaiser harrumphed, explaining why he doesn’t read blogs. But every single thing we read in the paper, including hard news, is the product of other people’s opinions about what we should know. Problems happen when those in charge believe in their own objectivity so much that they no longer know even that one simple fact.

If you're an editor who can't grasp that fact, it's time to come out of the cocoon.

Update: Related thoughts, here.



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