By paulgillin | May 7, 2008 - 8:39 am - Posted in Fake News rounds up a group of former LA Times editors for one-on-ones about the past and future of the newspaper. The conversation is pleasant until you hit the jump page, when former EICs Dean Baquet and James O’Shea unload on owner Sam Zell.

Quoting from Baquet:

“Tribune was not a good steward, but Zell seems to be worse. Tribune didn’t like the L.A. Times, but Zell seems to be flailing and making it up as he goes along. At least with Tribune, you could have a rational fight—they never shouted obscenities at me. I wish somebody could tell this guy that he’s presiding over important newspapers and that sounding like a knucklehead won’t work in the newspaper business. Doesn’t he understand that the best people at the Times are floating résumés across the country because of his bullying?”

And from O’Shea:

“I think Mr. Zell looks at newspapers as he looks at any business, but a newspaper isn’t any other business. It’s a public service. If you do a good job serving the public, then business will be good. Public service is not a dividend you decrease or increase when profits fall or grow. What the L.A. Times becomes will depend on Mr. Zell’s understanding of that.”

Survey says Newspaper Websites Attract Smart, Rich People

A Nielsen survey commissioned by the Newspaper Association of America reports that newspaper websites attracted more than 66.4 million unique visitors in the first quarter, up 12.3% from last year. Page views were up a more modest five percent. In addition, the survey found that regular online newspaper readers are richer, better educated, more likely to travel and more likely to use iTunes. They have all kinds of other desirable characteristics, which you can read about in the press release.

Murdoch Still Favored to Win Newsday

Newsday continues to provide the best coverage of its own impending sale. You’d think that with Cablevision outbidding two other suitors by $70 million, the deal would be a no-brainer.  Not so, says this report. For one thing, Sam Zell may be reluctant to snub his new buddy, Rupert Murdoch. Cablevision may also face the same kind of cross-ownership regulatory hurdles as News Corp. And the whole deal needs to be rubber-stamped by a watchdog group of Tribune Co. employees, who may or may not agree with their boss. The whole thing could drag on for months. (via Romenesko)

Envisioning the Future of News

Susan EdgerleySusan Edgerley, assistant managing editor of The New York Times, is answering questions from readers. She’s focused on reinventing the newsroom. Some notable quotes:

“Two years ago, we might have been hesitant to break a scoop on the Web — we would have worried about the competition catching up to us before our print deadline. No more. Now we put the story out there and figure out how to advance it for the next day’s paper.”

 “The Web staff used to be in a different building a couple of blocks from our old Times Square office. When we moved into our new building about a year ago, we had the space to sit together for the first time.”

 “I don’t think you’re wasting your time getting a print journalism degree. Telling stories fairly and compellingly will always be at the center of what we do.”

 “We’re hiring people, some of them straight out of school, for their Web skills.”

 “Finally, is more than the stories, pictures and graphics you see everyday in The New York Times. It is more than a newspaper on the Web. We want to use its blogs and reader comments and Topics pages and interactivity to talk more directly to our readers and find ways for them to share information with us.” has a prescription for resuscitating the dying business. Newspapers should put all their classifieds into one distributed, constantly updated database and then distribute them freely to bloggers, who can sell display ads against them. Bloggers can offer free classifieds to their readers, which become part of the master database. It’s an interesting idea, although we question how much interest bloggers – or display advertisers – will have in running ads next to ads. (via Romenesko)

For the true TV news junkie, check out The site aggregates video feeds from more than 100 stations around the U.S. The project is the brainchild of a former Bay Area TV producer, says the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club.

Sunlight News MashupEditors Weblog reports on Sunlight Foundation’s new tools for online journalists. They include a Google Maps mash-up of earmarks from last year’s Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill.

There’s also an item on the innovative uses of Twitter by the Evening Leader in the UK. The group text-messaging service recently enabled the paper to cover local election results, scooping its competition and setting up the print edition for more thoughtful next-day coverage. Will Twitter become an essential tool for journalists in the future? Let’s hear your comments.

Layoff Log

  • The Lexington Herald-Leader is offering a voluntary buyout program, looking to reduce its staff of 385 employees by about four percent. Layoffs are possible if the offer doesn’t generate enough interest.
  • The Camera of Boulder, Colo. laid off nine employees — 6 percent of its staff — in response to declining advertising revenues. The president of the company described the newspaper’s business as “healthy.” You figure it out.



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  1. November 29, 2008 @ 8:10 pm

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