The L.A. Times descends into civil war!

A mostly political Weblog.
March 25 2007 3:44 AM

The LAT Descends Into Civil War!

Why the best thing it could do is disappear.

This audio of Katie Couric's questions to the Edwards'--with their answers excised--would make a great soundtrack for a piece of conceptual art.  It certainly makes you want to throttle Katie Couric. ... [via Drudge ]10:49 P.M.

The Universal HuffPo "most popular" hed:

Never needs changing. Like a fluorescent bulb! ... 5:48 P.M.

Dissing the Disgruntled! Grazer-Gate Update: A summary of the L.A.Times' second-time-farce scandal is  here. The most recent at-bats ...

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Resigned editorial page editor Andres Martinez says the paper's newly-arrived editor and publisher

caved to a disgruntled newsroom that is annoyed at [the paper's owners in] Chicago, annoyed at them and annoyed at the autonomy of the opinion pages.

The newsroom unrest, Martinez says, is partly "ideological" (the news pages presumably being more conventionally liberal than his editorial page), partly "a matter of bureaucratic culture," and

some of it a personnel matter (there are some embittered former editorial board members that Kinsley and Carroll sent off to the newsroom). "

Michael Kinsley, former LAT opinon czar who hired Martinez, also blasts "newsroom busybodies," but simulataneously chides Martinez for making a fuss about whether "a news editor once asked him to consider running an editorial in connection with some news-side series ..."

This Week's L.A.T. editor** Jim O'Shea disagrees with all of the above, saying the accusers who made a fuss about Martinez's alleged conflict-of-interest are "people with a passion for the news and this newspaper."

In steps the L.A.T.'s own Tim Cavanaughon the paper's opinion blog to .. side against editor O'Shea! Cavanaugh says

Nikki Finke puts a tremulous finger on the real infection: "Sanctimonious newsroom reporters and editors acting all holier-than-thou about journalism ethics ... "

Mystery #1: Who are these "holier-than-thou" newsroom twits? We don't have to take that wild a guess--Martinez actually names two LAT veterans:

I'm guessing the Henry Weinsteins and Tim Ruttens of the world will continue to conjure up the magical words "Staples Center" to wail against any innovation at the paper ...

kf notes: Placating a disgruntled, twittish newsroom was clearly part of the reason Kinsley was shown to the "guillotine"  by Last Week's Publisher, Jeff Johnson (who subsequently got axed himself).

Mystery #2: Why anyone good would be lured into coming to work for this paper now. Want to be Mayor of Ramadi? ...

The big winners: David Geffen and Ron Burkle, who didn't buy the Times and don't have to deal with these people. ... 

Conclusion that's now clearer than ever: Blogger John Gabree notes  that you need a strong local paper to have a strong local political culture. Los Angeles has neither. The Times was making progress under Dean Baquet. But the best thing it could do for the city now is to simply disappear, instantaneously if possible, and open up space for decent alternatives to operate without the legacy cost of 900 tantrum-prone staffers of variable abilities. ...

** P.S.: It's not clear why the Times would need to recruit "guest editors"--they already more or less have them! In a relatively short period they've run through John Carroll and Dean Baquet and wound up with O'Shea, who in turn doesn't look like a promising candidate for extended editorial tenure after helping co-produce this week's humiliating events. ..

Backfill: Steyn and JPod and Drum and Patterico  pour it on. ... 2:15 A.M. link

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Truly hideous": That's how a teaser mass email from Business Week's Jon Fine describes the New York Times' February revenue report.  Details here. ... Fine notes mounting "evidence that rising Web revenues do not cancel out falling print revenues." [E.A.] He points out that if we believe the Times ' own press release, then TimesSelect--the "fee-based product on NYTimes.com"--only has about 220,000 paying subscribers: