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.
Monday, January 21, 2008
'L.A. Times' meets 'The Wire'
is author of a dozen books (click on covers at right), including the new "THE TUNNELS: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill." He was the longtime editor of Editor & Publisher. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @GregMitch