Monday, March 05, 2007

Revised LAT Travel Section Has Little To Offer

The ballyhooed "new" L.A. Times Sunday travel section seems to have little to offer. It is already clear that the Times will not be giving its readers nearly as much information on exotic travel destinations -- or even Europe for that matter -- as it did before.

The travel section had a nice piece on Monument Valley this Sunday, but far more readers of the Times travel to Europe every year than Monument Valley. Times readers are being treated as if they were a bunch of yokels, without desire for foreign travel..

This is another case of revisions at the Times being barely concealed further downsizing of a newspaper, which under Tribune Co. control, has undergone one cut back after another.

The readers ought to protest. The only hope that Tribune's owners will roll back some of these terrible revisions is if they are shamed into doing so. Times ownership is not terribly sensitive. It must be kicked in the head, before it will realize the unacceptability of its policies.

In this line, there are further reports this morning about the foolhardy plan to merge the L.A. Times Book Review with the undistinguished Current section and publish both on Saturday, rather than Sunday. This is another cut back, since there are hundreds of thousands fewer papers printed on Saturday than Sunday. It is a fraud on the Sunday readers, and it treats books like the bookburners did.

Steve Wasserman, a former editor of the book review, is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as protesting the change, saying properly that it diminishes the paper.

Also, the Chronicle notes in an article that reader unhappiness with a merger of that newspaper's book review into other sections was such that the editors decided to scrap the change and revive the book review.

The readers of the L.A. Times are adversely impacted by all these changes. The Times is ever so frequently less than the paper it was before, and none of this diminishing is lost on the readers. They can only worsen the paper's circulation losses.

L.A. Observed this morning also reports rumors of a new layoffs at the Times. More about this, if they occur.

One way for the Tribune Co. to save money would be to pay the inept CEO Dennis FitzSimons and his senior staff only so much money as they actually deserve in salaries and benefits. FitzSimons is worth only about $100 a week, if that. That would be enough for him to pay for the slop served in many Chicago restaurants.

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