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Monday, January 21, 2008

'L.A. Times' meets 'The Wire'

As I noted in a post yesterday, it was ironic that the axing of L.A. Times editor Jim O'Shea (allegedly over his resistance to budget cuts) came to light the same day as job cutbacks were to be announced at The Sun in Baltimore -- in HBO's "The Wire." Like the Times, The Sun has a Tribune Co. connection.

On the TV show last night, a very familiar scene showed the paper's publisher calling everyone together in the newsroom (see photo at right) to announce that because of revenue shortfalls and that damn free Internet, heads would have to roll, or at least buyouts ordered. Showing that the script is at least a little dated, there were suggestions that this was ordered "from Chicago." The editor, who physically looks not unlike actual Sun editor Tim Franklin, expressed his regrets while repeating the mantra of we-must-do-more-with-less. Much moaning ensued about the state of modern newspapers, along with references to a possible guild fight.

As often happens in real life, a veteran reporter refused a post on the copy desk and decided to accept a buyout, taking years of experience and insider knowledge with him. When the key younger reporter at the paper blithely suggested that the older fellow was just "dead wood" (wasn't that another HBO series?), he was promptly dissed by his editor. Partly in response, the young guy then made up a juicy quote for a story -- the second time he has done that this season. The first time he made up from scratch an appealing profile of a fan at an Orioles game, and hasn't been nailed for that yet. Prediction: a Jayson Blair-type scandal is fast approaching. We hope only on HBO.

Elsewhere on the show last night: another young reporter complained about her first front pager getting cut in half and moved to Metro. She had driven all the way to the paper's printing plant to get an early copy. And a mayor's aide leaked a police department story to the paper.


Anonymous said...

Why is that newspaper editors think they're above the economic realities that everyone else faces daily? The arrogance of O'Shea to refuse to cut his budget. The Times next move should be to hire someone with no past whatsoever in olde media.

Anonymous said...

which economic reality? that newspapers exist only to sell advertizing and make a profit for the owner? for some it's not about olde media or new media it's about content. for others it's only about the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

"Which economic reality?"

You're kidding surely. There is no content without a bottom line. Nor has their ever been.

Only someone who has lived in the bubble of olde media his whole career would think growing and endless amounts of red ink are sustainable.

Myopic, selfish and outdated.

Anonymous said...

You know that the editor in The Wire is patterned after John Carroll, not Tim Franklin...