The depressing state of the L.A. Times

Update 7/17/08: You can see a list of most of the people who were let go at the L.A. Times, here.

It wasn’t long ago in my relatively brief 30-year history on this earth, that I would look to the Times as the formidable giant on the West Coast, a shining journalistic monolith

If ever there was a Top 10 list of depressing news from the journalism world, the latest from the L.A. Times would be high upon it. Despite job cut after job cut, the Tribune company which owns the Times, has cut again – almost 20 percent of the paper’s staff. Along with the other Tribune-owned papers, the Times will also publish fewer pages of news.

The layoffs at the Times began yesterday.

It wasn’t long ago in my relatively brief 30-year history on this earth, that I would look to the Times as the formidable giant on the West Coast, a shining journalistic monolith with bureaus reaching out throughout the vast Los Angeles metropolitan area, and editions localized for different regions of the city. The latest news of cutbacks, which has dimished this giant from a newsroom of more than 1,300 smart journalists to a battered army of 720, is painful, even for an outside observer like me.

Correct that. I’m not an outside observer, not just because I’m also a journalist – one who has the utmost respect for the dedicated, brilliant men and women who are still willing to go into work and hold on to what they believe in: that what they do is more than a job, more than an industry, more than a 9-to-5 day’s work; that it’s a calling, a responsibility, and a privilege.

No. The Times’ wounds are my own because I’ve been the lucky beneficiary of their considerable efforts and talents, because I love Los Angeles and this city needs the Times, because I love this country and it needs the Times, and because I love my neighbors who – as I do – need the Times.

In just 10 years, the Los Angeles Times has lost a lot. I just hope 10 years from now, we will still have a newspaper which we recognize as our historical companion and guide.

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