El Cuzcatleco 2.0

Worthy of your thirty five seconds, 3 clicks, 3,456 eye blinks, and half a coffee cup.

Archive for the ‘journalism’ Category

R.I.P. to the L.A. Weekly

leave a comment »

Once the titan of alternative weeklies, the L.A. Weekly has become a shadow of itsself.

Once the titan of alternative weeklies, the L.A. Weekly has become a shadow of itself.

As major newspapers and weeklies are slashing jobs left and right in a troublesome U.S. economy, the dark days of journalism are upon us.

Marc Cooper, former writer for the LA WEEKLY, goes down fighting with an insightful, passionate, and unfiltered critique on the demise of (what use to be) one of the best weeklies in the nation.

I used to be an avid reader of both the LA Weekly, and the former New Times LA.  Full of terrific local reporting on city politics, film and art reviews, and great special edition issues (BEST OF LA, etc), the Weekly was an excellent addendum to the LA Times and the LA Daily News.

But as Cooper attests, the tentacles of media consolidation have led to the slow death of what was once known as the ‘alt-weekly’ (Seattle’s The Stranger and the San Francisco Bay Guardian being the small exceptions), and after being bought out by Village Voice Media (which controls the Village Voice, and holds a monopoly on most local weeklies around the nation), the LA Weekly has become a mere cheap copy of the titan it once was.

And this is not only happening in the weeklies.  Newspapers are being affected as well. The New York Times, pressured by U.S. economical woes and low readership, has resorted to putting ads for CBS programming, ON ITS FRONT PAGE. The wonderful Los Angeles online news watchdog, LA Observed, has recently posted a series of disheartening briefs on layoffs in the Weekly and LA Times, which include the wonderful Al Martinez (who has been writing for the Times for ages), the movie critic Ella Taylor (who has worked for the Village Voice and LA Weekly), and the long respected theater critic Steven Leigh Morris, who was told by Village Voice Media that they can’t afford having him anymore.

It’s disheartening to feel the effects of media consolidation, especially where I’ve grown up. Los Angeles, next to New York, is a major hub of media, and its frustrating to see how diluted its has become. Coming home this past Christmas, I was slightly appalled by the smaller LA Times dropped to my parents’ home daily. Ads cover large sections of the national news, business, and local news sections. Most of the writing has been pushed to their online edition (which is good, but demonstrative of the dramatic effects on the internet on print publishing), and what remains is a newspaper that is slowly vanishing in readership and relevance.

Last week, I saw on THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART an interesting interview with Michael Wolff, who recently released an extensive biography on arguably the most powerful man in media: Rupert Murdoch.  He sarcastically mentioned how Murdoch cares very little about the hundreds of media properties he owns (when asked by Stewart, Wolff said, “I don’t think he’s ever seen a movie put by his studios in years…or a TV show [sic]), and is merely a ‘newspaper man.’  Say what you will about Mr. Murdoch, but like Wolff suggests, we cannot ignore what may be the last true media mongol of his kind, and his time. I wonder what he thinks about the floundering industry that he has helped shaped and destroy over the past twenty years. Does he see the death of the newspaper? Or is he simply aloof in his megachair of doom, oblivious to the reality of journalism today? At least he detests Bill O’ Reilly.

But there are encouraging trends. There is something promising about the rise of immediate, news logging and blogging on the web, such as the wave of Tumblr updates during last year’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, which forced lagging television news organizations such as CNN to directly lift material from the social software to stay current. But there is as arguably much junk like DRUDGE REPORT (and to a lesser extent, the ‘left’ version, THE HUFFINGTON POST) to contend with for getting informed on what’s going on in our neighborhoods, and in our world.

Marc Cooper’s article is brave for articulating a disturbing trend in media organizations, where short term, immediate ‘events’ and ‘trends’ are given favor over intelligent, well-research investigative reporting. Journalism is a dirty, ugly, dehumanizing job, and good journalists are not given enough credit (DEMOCRACY NOW‘s Amy Goodman is still fighting the good fight), pay, or respect for the work they do. They are involved in an industry that still has the power to shake the powerful. So it’s a shame to see journalism suffer like it has in the LA Weekly and LA Times.

Written by elcuzcatleco

01/12/2009 at 1:38 pm