Monday, May 2, 2011

Why is The Los Angeles Times Dead

The Los Angeles Times is the premier newspaper for its city. It has been around for more than 100 years and used to have the prestige of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. The last decade has been less than good for the paper. Good describes the retrogression of the giant as follows.

"The Times, one of America’s great daily newspapers, was famously acquired in a 2007 leveraged buyout by Chicago real-estate tycoon Sam Zell, and in the ensuing annus horribilis, the paper was hacked down, dumbed down, and finally flushed down the bankruptcy hole in late 2008."

Good is completely off the mark. The reason that the newspaper is hemorrhaging money left and right is because of our current milieu. The newspaper is yesterday's news. The paper cannot keep up with such instantaneous information sources. Furthermore, good writers no longer need newspapers to launch their careers anymore. The talent can start their own websites to get the name out.

But how bad is it that this once great paper has lost its prestige and profitability? Well it is bad for the people who own them and write for them, but for everyone else it is great. Where before most people used to get their news from newspapers, they can now get it from the radio, television, and maybe most important of all, the internet. The old newspapers represented an institution where very radical opinions could get silenced in favor of the status quo. How extreme could your views of government be under such a condition? A prestigious newspaper could not allow it or risk losing readership. With blogs that is not the case. People can write whatever they want no matter how extreme it may seem. This creates a world of new, exciting content, though it is less verifiable.

And this is where the old newspapers fit in. While blogs make for great reading and experimentation, big news companies will always be the source for verified information. This is not to say that newspapers never get it wrong; they have before and they will again. It is just that these giants are less prone to outright lies and fabrications. Newspapers today should focus less, then, on their written publications which virtually have no place in our modern world and should instead focus on their on-line content. They should be the place to go to for up to the minute news and to make money should either advertise, start a subscription service, or a combination of the two.

The old world of newspapers is dead. To survive, they must adapt to the demands of consumers while still retaining their element of quality. That is their niche, and to that they must adapt or fail.


  1. You have great insights-and I enjoyed reading your posts-
    Your comment at my site brought a smile--
    I will be adding your site to my roll--

  2. A great analysis, Tony. I don't think they are going to learn, but who knows.

  3. Great post! A few years ago when we were visiting in-laws in LA we read LA Times that my father-in-law subscribes to. Then we picked up the free weekly, and the weekly was much more entertaining and informative. Obviously they have a different niche market, but it seemed like they know what they are doing.

  4. Thanks Jim.

    edgeofthesandbox, The LA Times needs to figure out what it is and what readers want, rather than trying to decide what the readers should be.

  5. Oh and Carol, thank you very much for the add.