Friday, November 18, 2005

L.A. Times Doing A Poor, Confusing Job On Circulation

As L.A. Times circulation has continued its sorry drop -- now about 30% -- since the losers from the Chicago Tribune bought the paper, service on the circulation phone lines has deteriorated.

Perhaps, it's because the customer service lines were outsourced to Wisconsin. When you call the paper, you get a variety of different price offers, but the bottom line is that you can buy the paper these days for $2 a week, that is if they bill you.

But sometimes, they are very dilatory about billing you.

Knowing that my subscription, $104 for the past year, was running out Nov. 4, I called the paper several weeks ago, and was told that I could have the $2 rate extended six months. I said, fine, could I stop in at the offices downtown and pay the bill? No, the customer service rep said, we will bill you.

But a month has gone by and I haven't been billed yet. The paper is still coming, however.

Pardon me, if I have a sneaking suspicion that one reason there are more layoffs coming at the Times is that they aren't collecting for subscriptions in a timely manner. They don't even seem to have a means by which you can walk in and pay the bill. You can't even talk to a Californian any more when you call the subscription lines.

Now, according to Kevin Roderick in L.A. Observed, the paper has begun telling callers that they can look forward to a more conservative lineup of columnists, or at least some more conservative columnists.

Wonderful! Los Angeles voted for McGovern years ago against Nixon. It just massively voted against Schwarzenegger's ballot measures in the special election. There is every reason to believe the odds are that whoever is told to expect more conservative columnists is most likely to be a liberal.

It's just another sign that these Chicago transplants or Wisconsin know-nothings don't know what they are doing.

Then, Roderick reports, there is the new publisher, Jeff Johnson's, response to a subscriber who contacted him to protest the ouster of leftwing columnist Robert Scheer.

According to this subscriber, a letter soon came back from Johnson, saying:

"For the past 12 years, Bob's passion and eloquence have enriched the opinion pages of the Times, where he previously worked as a reporter. We are grateful for his contributions. However, we are very excited about our new roster of columnists, who are described in more detail in the attached..."

What a phony, unresponsive letter! If Johnson can't be better than that, he should be withdrawn to Chicago, just as the French Government used to periodically withdraw the emissaries they sent to rebellious Algeria in the days of the Third Republic.

Johnson now has responsibility for the editorial pages, since editor Dean Baquet, unwisely in my point of view, declined to take that responsibility. Since Johnson took over, there has been little improvement. Now, it turns out Johnson can't even write a meaningful letter.

The new columnists thus far seem bland and uninteresting. I was usually in disagreement with Scheer, but it's beginning to seem like it was a mistake to get rid of him, especially since neither Johnson nor editorial pages editor Andres Martinez is able to explain why he was ousted.

The truth is, things at the Times are getting worse, far worse.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop whining, Ken. The paper's managers are no more nonsensical and misguided than a lot of your opinions are.

11/18/2005 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're on fire, Ken. Keep it up.

It was a smack by Mrs. O'Leary's cow that they say sparked the Windy City's last hoe-down.

Keep heaving those hooves, Ken. Lanterns need to be knocked over.

11/19/2005 1:08 AM  
Blogger shelly sloan said...

The Times is going down. They cannot make up their mind what the problem is, so how can they find the solution?

What they need is true fair and balanced reporting. It is not the columnists, not the commentators, it is the EDITORS.

Stop the mollycoddling of the murders, suicidal killers of children and non-combatants by calling them "insurgents" or "militants" and start calling them by their proper names, like "murderers", and "killers" and "zealots" and the like.

The readers get the truth in the blogisphere; if the newspapers want them back, they better get back to the truth and stop editorializing the news with the old moral equivalency crap for the killers and murderers like Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Queda.

The people that used to read newspapers have lost faith in the Times to report honestly, it is that simple.

But, what would a newspaperman like you know about selling newspapers?

Ken, you can be a pain in the ass, but you were an honest, solid reporter. Your kind is gone, and will never again be on the Times.

You can take back the Times; it just ain't gonna be worth anything when these guys from Chicago are through with it.

11/19/2005 4:14 AM  

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