Monday, March 30, 2009

Does the West Side Really Need Its Own Newspaper?

A few years ago, Slate's Kausfiles blog was convinced that a "gang rumble" had taken place on Halloween in Brentwood. The police checked into it -- as did the L.A. Times -- and couldn't find any evidence of such an event. Yet Kausfiles' easily frightened pals on the Westside were convinced that "West Side Story" had been re-enacted in their backyards. Whatever.

Now, Kausfiles has put out a plea to local billionaires to bank roll a local paper for, what, the woefully underserved affluent Westside?!

Here's why Kaus gets it wrong: First off, he directs his plea to Philip Anschutz -- despite the fact that Anschutz's Examiner papers are mostly filled with wire copy; and judging by his decision to close down the Baltimore Examiner, he's not exactly hot on launching new papers. AND... uh, you really think Anschutz's conservative-leaning, anti-union newspaper will go over well in West L.A.?!

Secondly... here's the gist of why Kaus thinks the West Side is underserved:

We want to know whom Mayor Villaraigosa is dating, and we want to see her picture. And if John Edwards visits his mistress at the Beverly Hilton and gets chased into a bathroom by National Enquirer reporters--hey, you know, maybe that's a story! (The LAT didn't think so.)

Yep, that's a solid business plan. The West Side is underserved by the LA Times because... there isn't enough coverage of who's boffing the Mayor?

And third... Kaus believes the LA Times doesn't cover the West Side because he doesn't see stories that he'd like to see. But last I checked, Kaus isn't the West Side spokesman. Here's where his critique is so ridiculous: Show the LAT to most less-affluent Angelenos, and they'd be struck by how upscale-centric the paper feels. From the throwaway marketing department-run Los Angeles Times magazine, to the Image section, to the kind of entertainment options it covers... I'd say West Siders probably are more familiar with the kind of things the LAT covers than someone in, say, Alhambra.

Kaus may remember that Richard Riordan did, indeed, briefly consider taking on the L.A. Times... but eventually downsized those plans and decided to bankroll a weekly paper instead. But even that paper never got off the ground; and that was in 2003, long before the economic collapse and a few years before print really started tanking.

There's plenty to critique about the LAT -- and I, for one, am still upset that the California section was axed (and don't get me started on the decision to drop "Sally Forth"). But I don't think I've ever heard anyone argue that the paper is suffering because West Side Angelenos want more trivial coverage.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...