L.A. Times Fading Away?

Posted on February 25, 2012 by

Expect tens of thousands of Southern Californians to remove their bookmark from the online edition of the Los Angles Times when it imposes its paywall next month, further diminishing the reach and influence of this once important publication.

With the skimpy print edition of the paper bleeding circulation, the barely-adequate website at least gave interested readers the chance to check local headlines and track regional issues.

But how many past subscribers will re-order the paper or cough up four bucks a week to scan the Times from their computers or phones?

And who wants to support a business owned by lunatic billionaire Sam Zell, who picked up the Times when he acquired the Tribune Company through a sleazy buy-out which leveraged employee pension assets?  (Before the real estate crash, it was rumored that Zell wanted to unload the Times building across from city hall to condo developers.)

What was once known as a great reporters paper has been decimated by editorial staff and other layoffs.  Among remaining employees are many fine journalists, veteran printing plant workers and experienced ad sales reps who are trying to hang on until retirement age.

Other metropolitan dailies are suffering, too, but the L.A. Times – a pivotal institution in the making of Southern California (for better or worse) – seems to have fallen the furthest.

Less noticeable nowadays on the news racks and doorsteps and losing status and power in the region, the L.A. Times may soon find itself disappearing from tens of thousands of computer screens as well.

Comments (7)


  1. Greg says:

    Sad story of the printed word’s life in an era of instant news streamed online and to almost every cell phone.

  2. Jeff Polman says:

    It’s become a sad, sad publication. We’ve been subscribing forever and now half the time we don’t even bring the paper in the house and pull off the plastic sleeve. My instantaneous Twitter feed has made it just about superfluous.

  3. Frank Stricker says:

    i agree with most of your sentiments. Are you right about 4$ a week? I read something about 99cents in the Times today. Will check it, but I recall how surprised I was at how little the amount was.

  4. John Connolly says:

    From my own generational sentimental perspective, the slow strangling demise of the “LA Times” is indeed sad. But from a citizen-building democratic perspective it’s even more frightening than sad.

    “The Times” has truly declined as a news institution, accelerated by the ultra-creepy Zell-Zotz … kinda like if Murdoch bought the “New Yorker” and “The Nation” at the same time. But I’ve seen (or imagined) some improvement in “The Times” over the last year or so: some really important investigative pieces, some real national news scoops; even some terrific international stories. (Of course their latest campaign to “expose” non-existent corruption in the LA Community College District has fallen flat; while digging into sleaze at the Coliseum Authority has proved worthwhile; “Times” coverage of the lousy re-districting process has been meagre and lame.

    But if “The Times” goes down it will leave us with a parochial set of regional NIMBY-obsessed newspapers led by the rip-’n-read “Daily News” … and the national edition of “The New York Times”. There will be no authoritative center to news and diverse editorial opinion in Southern California.

    From an educated citizenry point of view, this is the tragic result of the digital tide. Digital media is still too immature and unreliable from a verifiable content perspective to replace print journalism, not to mention the question of the still-extant digital divide, which is at least generational if not class-based.

    So, as much as I rail against “The Times (and my wife doesn’t even want it in the house), I don’t want to see it go … ever from my sentimental heart … and not for a long time from my political brain.

  5. Gavin Koon says:

    I still like to read my “newspaper” in newsprint. Delievered everyday and faithly gone thru. We need a strong public forum to keep our sysem in check, espicially true for local areas. I am doubtful that boggers and low cost internet new services can fill the gap. People like Zell are only interested in profit and have little sense of social obligations. I know this from my IA days and the difficulties in negotiationing with KTLA, another Tribune owned entity. I am hopeful the L.A. Times will survive. (although I wish they were more democratic and less republian in orientation)

  6. Jann Whetstone says:

    Hi Lou and Everyone-
    Who chimed in on this…yes indeed a sad case for So Cal, despite the LA Times being overly Republican, for years I have been reading this paper. In my childhood-current events for elementary school and even in my college days, there’s just something about holding that newsprint in hand, for Gods sake you can’t cut out a home printed article it’s just not right.

    Not too mention how many workers will lose their jobs, yet adding to our dismal economic situation. I remember picketing outside the LA Times several years ago…

    Many fond memories will pass when/ if the Times goes 100% digital.


  7. [...] not going to waste time here moaning about the current condition of our home town paper but instead welcome a very ambitious on-line project – at least a year in the making – [...]

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