Friday, September 16, 2005

L.A. Times Shows What It Most Needs, EDGE

If there's any way in which the L.A. Times has long been deficient, it's EDGE, the little ways a newspaper or other publication has of showing that it's sophisticated and critical, that it didn't just fall off the turnip truck.

And, this week, I'm happy to say, since I returned from my Alaska-Canada trip, there are some signs of Times EDGE, thank goodness. Maybe, Dean Baquet, the new editor, is partially responsible. At least, I hope he is.

Reading back issues, I see that Steve Lopez last Sunday was up to the challenge. His quote of Barbara Bush on the hurricane was very revealing.

Visiting the Houston Asrrodome, Mrs. Bush, Lopez reported, "said the evacuees -- many of whom lost everything and were still searching for lost relatives -- seemed to be fine.

"They were underprivileged anyway," Barbara Bush said, "so this is working out well for them."

This is just priceless. If there is any reason the Bush family is suddenly in real political trouble, this explains it, and I feel indebted to Lopez for bringing it to our attention.

Then, this morning, Friday, Sept. 16, I was glad to see two brief stories in the L.A. Times that also showed EDGE.

One, in the Business section, by Debora Vrana, had to do with California Treasurer Phil Angelides, a prospective Democratic candidate for governor next year, telling Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a letter that the proposed purchase of PacifiCare Health Systems, Inc., ought to be opposed, because it calls for $315 million in payouts to the top executives involved.

"There is simply no justification for these excessive payouts -- which will go to the very same HMO executives who engineered this merger," Angelides told the governor.

Amen! The recent sale of Blue Cross of California was followed by such payouts, and also sharp premium increases to policyholders. But what is encouraging to me about this is that it appeared in Business, which in the past has been notoriously bland, often reluctant to run anything critical of the big corporations. If this policy does change, it means a far better Business section.

Then, I was also delighted to see, in Calendar, by Scott Collins, a story about the tift between Geraldo Rivera of the Fox News Network, and Alessandra Stanley, TV critic for the New York Times.

The issue: had Rivera, as Stanley alleged, "nudged an Air Force rescue worker out of the way so hius camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older woman in a wheelchair to safety?"

Rivera, the often loudmouthed Fox commentator, is demanding a correction. So far, neither the NYT or Stanley has given him one.

This is entertaining, scintillating and obviously well worth the space it got in the L.A. Times. Such stories, if repeated a hundred fold, might succeed in reversing the LAT's circulation declines.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thrilled about the insurance story, but I don't think you can give them too much credit for the Barbara Bush or Rivera stories which have been covered to death by other outlets first.

9/16/2005 5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ken, you obviously have no clue whatsoever. the times is dying. the ciruclation will not grow until they realize that you cannot insult the intelligence of the "red staters" in every. single. edition. every. freakin. day.

there are, what, 15 million people in the l.a. dma, and the times circ is just over 920K?

as the times continues to pander to the politics of the westside, the decline will continue.

but, you will continue to blame, bash, pander, kowtow, etc. along with your former brethren at the paper. (with the occasional pro-bush piece which then invites many moveon.org freaks to pile on you like you're suddenly a closet nazi.)

the times will not change until management (har, har) realizes that the need to understand l.a. and the dma for what it is. and that is: not hollywood and not brentwood.

9/16/2005 5:28 PM  

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