Friday, February 09, 2007

Former Editor Explains LAT Internet Failures

Glenda McCarthy, a former listings editor at the L.A. Times Web site, goes a long way to explaining why the newspaper's Web site has been a failure, up to now at least, in an e-mail to Kevin Roderick, editor of L.A. Observed.

The e-mail outlines how, under the scatterbrained Tribune Co. of Chicago, the Times hired for the Web "primarily temporarily low-paid employees who had no background in journalism" and who, besides, had only contempt for the regular journalists on the paper.

It's a story that has been documented before. Times editors would ask Tribune to invest in the Web site with more qualified personnel, but, in keeping with a policy of not making sound investments in its newspapers, Tribune always refused.

This is the whole story of the Tribune's ownership of the Times and other Times-Mirror newspapers -- a refusal to spend enough to keep the papers competitive.

I've suggested before that Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons be given a lobotomy. But perhaps FitzSimons has already had a lobotomy, and it didn't work. There is certainly something wrong with how this fellow thinks. But that may be also because he eats unhealthy Chicago food.

Yesterday, the L.A. Times Web site showed signs of doing something right, running an interesting chat with Times editorial pages editor Andres Martinez.

But to really improve, it needs more staff, and better-qualified staff. It hired one qualified editor recently. It needs many more. But the chances are, it won't get more. In the New York Times today, Tribune executive Scott Smith, a member of the "axis of stupidity," predicts further circulation declines at Tribune newspapers. Smith and FitzSimons aren't doing anything to improve circulation.


Editor James O'Shea's selection of the able Devan Maharaj as editor of the Times Business section is good news. Maharaj has more skills than either Rick Wartzman or Russ Stanton, the two previous Business editors. He will know what to do to make this a better section.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What will happen to the LAT when newspapers finally start charging for reading their product on the web? Will the LAT have *anything* to offer that other papers don't?

Having once worked at the LAT myself, I am somewhat appalled at how slow they've been to catch on to this whole internet thing. I know their circulation is suffering and I'm sure advertising revenues are down too. You would think they would have figured it out by now. Then again, they were always slow to change anything.

2/12/2007 6:09 PM  

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