Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Murder By Tribune Co. Cost-Cutters of L.A. Times TV Times

One of the sleaziest tricks of corporate jackasses, like the Tribune Co., is to kill off something, a feature which has been helpful to the public, by putting out a notice that in order to keep getting it, users must call in, or write in, their desire for it. Otherwise, it will stop.

Most users never read the notice, and of those who do, few take the trouble to call in, or write in. Then, after the always paltry response, the corporation announces there is so little demand for the feature they are cancelling it altogether. It doesn't mean users haven't liked the feature, just that in the busy world in which we live, most people don't take the time to stand up for the things they like, even if it takes just a few minutes.

That is what is now happening to the L.A. Times weekend TV Times. When Maury Mazur was with the newspaper, TV Times was a tremendous product, listing all important TV programs and explaining what all the movies were about, enough of a summary to enable readers to decide whether to watch them.

Then, as another product of the desire of Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons to continually reduce the quality of the L.A. Times, in his jealous rage at California and the former owners, the Chandler family, TV Times began to be diminished, and soon it will be no more.

The downsizing of the Times in general, the cutting of sports and regular news pages, the addition of useless summary pages further reducing the actual news hole, the layoffs of staff, have not been adequately resisted by Times editor Dean Baquet, who likes to have himself named as one of the 100 most influential Los Angelenos, but doesn't quite have the moxie to stand up against all these moves by ignorance, prejudiced outsiders.

It is worth recalling that when Baquet replaced the more resistant John Carroll as editor a year ago, it was put out that he had flown back to Chicago and insisted upon a promise by the Tribune stupes to suspend their downsizing before he would agree to become editor.

That must have been an intentionally false report, because since then Baquet has done nothing that has been successful to stop the Tribune in its tracks. He has laid down as a suicide in front of the speedy cost-cutting train.

Meanwhile, circulation has continued to fall. Most recent reports put it 250,000 below the level it was when Tribune took over in 2000. And month by month, there are further hits taken on Times quality.

If Baquet can't do the job, he ought to resign. His leaving would be the most honorable course.

Meanwhile, all we can do is lament the continue deterioration of the Times product.


On Friday, it was revealed the Times is making at least some telephone calls to subscribers asking whether they want TV Times. This was probably a test of sentiment of the public. It was not suggested how many Times subscribers were being called.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

He [Baquet] has laid down as a suicide in front of the speedy cost-cutting train.

He has? I think the staff members who left somewhat voluntarily last December would argue that point. If he does resign, I hope he takes his back-biting, vindictive hatchet gal with him.

8/15/2006 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leaving aside alleged corporate mismanagement of the Times (I wouldnt know anything about that), the Times so often seems to work extra hard to damage its reputation.

A terrible example is today's article by Jenifer Warren on the sad situation of convicted SLA murderer and fugitive Sara Jane Olson.

It seems the Times wants us to feel sorry for Olson, who lives a dreary life in prison apart from her doctor husband and kids. Mentioned only as a footnote is the woman killed in the 1976 bank robbery. She left behind a husband and kids, but who cares?

Not the Los Angeles Times.

Jenifer Warren didn't bother to check how they've been doing all this time. I'll bet their life was not as nice as Olson's.

What exactly are we to take away from this story?

That a murder by lefty radicals isn't really a serious crime, more like an excess of enthusiasm?

That Olson is an upper-middle class lefty like ourselves (Times reporters and editors) and shouldn't be punished severely?

That murder victims should be forgotten because they are old news?

I'm serious, what the hell is the point of this story?

Does Times management have any idea how deeply repellent this story is? I wonder how many people cancelled the Times today because of this story.

Somebody got the idea for this story, and paid Jenifer Warren's expenses to Chowchilla. Then, presumably, editors read it before publication. Did anyone object to the terrible moral inversion of this article? It would seem not.

Murder is bad and murderers are bad. When the Times gets this wrong as they did today, can anyone trust their judgement on anything?

Even if its true corporate cost cutters are ruining the Times, I don't think you can blame terrible news and editorial judgement on bean counters.

That is a separate problem that does not seem to be addressed at the Times

8/15/2006 3:50 PM  

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