Thursday, April 27, 2006

John Carroll, In Speech, Reports Local Moves To Buy Back The LAT

Efforts by local interests are underway to buy back the Los Angeles Times, reports former Times editor John Carroll in a speech at the American Society of Newspaper Editors meeting in Seattle.

Carroll, deploring corporate ownership of newspapers, made these notable remarks:

"I have edited newspapers in three cities -- Lexington, Baltimore and Los Angeles -- and in all three cities I'm seeing a new phenomenon: Local people seeking to buy the paper back from the corporations. I've spoken with several of them. These are serious people -- sophisticated people with real money.

"Unlike corporate owners, these people talk about the importance of the paper to the community. They talk about restoring its pride. They talk about investing in journalism, especially in local coverage. They see the newspaper as a fallen angel, and they say they'd be willing to accept a lower financial return, which would allow the paper to breathe again."

But, Carroll added, "Yes, it seems too much to hope for."

He did not identify the prospective owners in Los Angeles.

Carroll quit as editor of the L.A. Times last summer as part of an apparent protest against cost cutting by the Tribune Co., of Chicago, a company whose executives seem to care about only one thing primarily, making money. They would rather fire a journalist than have a quality product.

The Tribune is a company which has seldom been willing to live up to its journalistic responsibilities in Los Angeles and other former Times-Mirror cities, Baltimore, Hartford and the New York suburbs. It has cut back in all these places, lost circulation in all of them and insisted upon consolidation efforts, such as folding the Times' Washington bureau into the Tribune offices, which have adversely affected the L.A. Times and its staff in many ways.

Even as Carroll was speaking, announcement of a spread of corporate journalism was made by the MediaNews company owned by William Dean Singleton, which now intends to acquire, among other papers, the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times and the Monterey County Herald from the McClatchy Co. in a scheme which involves a possibly illegal sweetheart deal with the Hearst Corp.

Why McClatchy wants to sell the San Jose and Monterey papers at all is beyond understanding, when one considers that these papers circulate in some of the wealthiest, more influential parts of the state and would add to McClatchy's already impressive California empire.

Singleton is bad news for journalists. He, like the Tribune interests, seems more devoted to making money than in any service to communities in which his papers are based.

In his ownership of the Daily News in the San Fernando Valley, for instance, MediaNews has supported the breakup of the city of Los Angeles, a foolhardy plan rejected thankfully by local voters which seems to have had as its main object a better competitive position in the Los Angeles market for the Daily News.

There can be little doubt that the San Jose paper and its personnel, for examp[e, would take a hit, if they fell into the grip of the greedy Mr. Singleton.

The full text of Carroll's speech was available today on various web sites. It raises the issues that are most important to raise in American journalism and one of the most worthy things the former Times editor has ever done.

We can only pray that the local interests he talks about in Los Angeles and the other cities come forward as soon as possible. snd that the Tribune Co., which internally cares not a jot for Los Angeles, is willing to sell out.

That would be worthy of a real celebration here, getting rid of these low lifes from Chicago.


Blogger Ed Padgett said...

Tribune stock up $1.00 per share on rumors of a buyout in Business Week.

Article posted on my blog.


4/28/2006 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be really nice if the LA Times were once again, 'a writer's newspaper.'

Though I hesitate whether to say this could be good or bad. It all depends on who the local interests are.

4/28/2006 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on down Rupert! We need Fox to take over the Times. They can cut all the liberal writing staff, print the paper in Mexico, and sell ads from Australia! Look at the great job they did with the Dodgers. Bill O'Reilly can be on the Editorial page, and Sean Hannity can also have a daily column. Gee, maybe Tribune doesn't look so bad know. They brought over to the Times John Carroll, John Puerner, Dean Baquet, etc. Now if they can only get rid of Simers

4/30/2006 8:38 AM  

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