Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Story Conference At The L.A. Times (A Satire)

Participants in the Story Conference:
David Hiller, temporary Publisher
James O'Shea, temporary Editor
Doug Frantz, Managing Editor
Leo Wolinsky, Managing Editor
Others

O'Shea--So what do we have today?

Wolinsky--North Korea has sold several atomic bombs to Iran, and the Iranians say they will test one in the Persian Gulf. The U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia have declared emergencies. Also, in Darfur, there's been a huge new massacre of black Africans by Arab militias.

Hiller--Hmm, I killed off an African too.

Frantz (shocked)--I beg your pardon. Dean Baquet is an African-American.

Wolinsky--He's an all-American.

Hiller--He crossed me with his New Orleans speech and I responded like any red-blooded publisher would. Imagine, not wanting to maximize profits.

O-Shea--Now, David, calm down.

Hiller--When you address me, call me, Mr. Hiller!

O'Shea--In any case, what do we have in local news? I think we'll run the Iranian developments inside Section A somewhere.

Wolinsky(shocked)--Not run news of this kind on Page 1? Why, we have three of our foreign correspondents right on location.

Hiller--We don't want to showcase these correspondents too much. After all, after New Year's we might get rid of them.

Wolinsky--Well, we don't have that much locally today. In Pasadena, they have decided to rebuild City Hall for seismic reasons.

O'Shea--I thought Pasadena was in Texas.

Wolinsky--No, it's right near here. You've heard of the Rose Bowl, haven't you?

O'Shea--No.

Wolinsky--Besides that, there's a new tempest at UCLA, where they've agreed to admit a few more minority applicants. There's a stop-light controversy in San Pedro. And the L.A. City Council will give a party for Mayor Villaraigosa.

O'Shea--Where's San Pedro?

(Suppressed laughter from others in the room).

Frantz--San Pedro is down at L.A. Harbor. Don't you think you ought to take me up on that offer of a tour of the Los Angeles area?

O'Shea--I can't do that, be editor of the Times and go to visit my wife in Chicago three days each week, at the same time.

Wolinsky--So, what do we want to play on Page 1?

O'Shea--What do you think, Mr. Hiller?

Hiller (satisfied)--That's more like it, Jimbo. My feeling is we ought to go with the local stories Leo's mentioned. We can compensate by having Andres Martinez do an editorial on the Iranian caper.

O'Shea--All I want to do is entertain the L.A. public.

Wolinsky--The few still reading the paper.

Hiller--Don't cross me. I'm almighty, Leo, and you may soon find that out too.

O'Shea--The meeting is adjourned. If the paper isn't sold by then, I'll see you tomorrow.

Hiller--By the way, one thing more. I don't want any mention of Harvard University in the paper as long as John Carroll continues to work there.

Frantz--I'm going out for a drink.

Wolinsky--Me too.

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