Friday, February 09, 2018

1903 New Times at the LA Times



Going to need a glossary to understand this one.  So here goes:

1.    The Los Angeles Times, once a great newspaper, was founded 136 years ago.  It was locally owned most recently by the Chandler family which didn’t know what to do with it until Otis Chandler started running it. That’s when it stopped being an antique version of Blightbart. And before it started becoming Daily Variety.
2.     It later bought Newsday and other papers.  The company formerly known as the Chicago Tribune -- now “tronc” -- bought it and continued to drive it into the ground, something that began with Chandler’s death.
3.    Patrick Soon-Shiong supposedly is the “world’s richest doctor.” But he didn’t get to be that by administering flu shots at a clinic. He founded several companies, invested in others and declared war on cancer, which he says he intends to conquer in the next few years. He was born in South Africa where his parents fled during Japan’s ruination of their native China.

Other pertinent facts:
1.    Dr. Pat as he likes to be called is paying $500-million for the paper.
2.    That is twice what Amazon’s Bezos paid for the Washington Post and seven times what John Henry paid to buy the Boston Globe.

Okay, now what? Another ailing newspaper is sold to another billionaire.  But the LA Times is different because

1.    Los Angeles is a company town and the company is a conglomerate called the Movie Biz.
2.    It is impossible to report on the Movie Biz without one’s journalistic nose in the company’s butt at least occasionally because No Sources, No News.
3.    Chandler turned the Times into a major paper with bureaus all over the place and brought it to national prominence.
4.    The Times has been in constant personnel turmoil for the past 15 years or so.

So now there’s a doctor in the house. And if any ailing body needed a doctor, it’s the LA Times.

Triage:
1.    Tronc has saved Dr. Pat from the necessity of canning publisher Ross Levinsohn, recently suspended without pay caught in a #metoo event.
2.    Tronc also has absorbed Levinsohn back into its ailing body as yours would reabsorb a cyst and put him in charge of a division no one pays any attention to which may be more than he deserves. Or less.
3.    The Times has gone through more editors than the cartoon Charmin bears go through toilet paper... with equally smelly results. Put someone in charge, Pat.

Long Term:
1.    Dr. Pat will lose megabucks in trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
2.    He can afford it.
3.    The readers and advertisers of the LA Times deserve it.
4.    Brilliant editors restored the Post and the Globe to their former glories almost overnight. In fact… it was the same guy at both papers. Find someone like that.  And not Dean Baquet ex LA Times and now in over his head at the NY Times as were the three immediate predecessors all lined up at the NYT turnstyle to Oblivion.

Caution:
Billionaires don’t get to be billionaires by giving flu shots at the free clinic.  Let’s have a look at Dr. Pat and let’s do it in One Big Hurry. If he turns out to be another Sheldon Addlebrain, forget all of the above.

Further reading:  My laudatory piece Otis Chandler  here -- it’s from 12 years ago.

SHRAPNEL:
--Beside being expensive and time and energy consuming, trump’s proposed military parade in Washington is a sign of weakness, not strength… but may foretell the future. Only third world dictatorships stage those kinds of parades.  They don’t show gratitude to service men and women, they show threats to a potentially disobedient civilian population.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
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© WJR 2018


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