Cooper critiques future of LA Times in week-long op-ed series
Posted July 10, 2008
Amidst news that the Los Angeles Times will cut 17% of its editorial staff, journalism professor Marc Cooper (pictured) has provided expert commentary on the future of the newspaper all week, writing five op-eds in the Times and being featured on KCRW's "Which Way, L.A.?" about whether the city needs its main source of printed news.
"I imagine if the Times becomes a fifth-class paper, Los Angeles will continue — there will be no earthquakes or buildings falling over," Cooper said on KCRW. "But I'm a little concerned by what I hear: There's a schadenfreude, the so-what, the 'Oh, big deal, we're going to lose this big fat lazy newspaper.' I'm concerned about that."
Cooper wrote four "point/counter-point" articles, arguing with Los Angeles prosecutor and blogger Patrick Frey, who offered a much different perspective about the direction and importance of the Times.
"Even earlier this week, Patrick, when you and I were jawing away at this about on Warren Olney's radio program, "Which Way L.A.?,” I was struck by the words of Times Editor Russ Stanton," Cooper wrote in a Los Angeles Times July 10 op-ed. "He vowed that as The Times moves into the future and deeper into the Web, it would be ever "more responsive" to its readers. I think you would agree that this is some pretty stale thinking left over from Web 1.0, once again marking The Times as about five years behind the curve."
Frey argued that the Times turned too liberal and turned off many readers, but Cooper disagreed.
"I don’t think the problem with the LA Times is ideological," Cooper said on KCRW. "I think the problem with the LA Times is attitudinal, and I do agree with Patrick on that completely. There is an Internet revolution and it’s changed not only the way the news is created but the way it’s delivered and the way it’s read and it’s radically shifted the relationship between audience and provider. And, it’s nobody’s fault. The LA Times — like all newspapers — has gotten caught in the middle of this shift and it’s very difficult to respond to. I do think the response resides, however, in the LA Times and all newspapers understanding that they can no longer maintain the unilateral position that they’ve held vis-à-vis their audience and that their has to be a more mutual more symbiotic relationship."
Cooper wrote in a July 7 op-ed that the Times must change its strategy to survive.
“No question that The Times needs a business and editorial retooling, especially in the current turbulent economic and journalistic environment,” Cooper wrote. “In order to survive and prosper into the next decade, The Times will indeed have to make many and perhaps quite radical changes. But you don't weather that storm by first throwing overboard all the things you do the best — along with the people who best do them (which so far has been the distinguishing characteristic of (Tribune Co. chairman Sam) Zell's tenure)."
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July 7 LA Times op-ed
July 8 op-ed
July 9 op-ed
July 10 op-ed
July 11 op-ed
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