The Los Angeles Times is suffering from a poor rep, it seems. In an article published in today's issue of The Australian, Robert Lusetich, who seems to be a sports commentator, says that "The problem is with the share price", and that the U.S. paper will now need to find a new editor since "beloved" editor Dean baquet left, after refusing to make more cuts to the payroll.
The above quote is taken from paragraph 20 of a 23-para piece, indicating that all of the prior journalism was just packing around the real message. But he also says that the paper "is not destitute", retaining "about a 20 per cent profit margin". In October this year, here in Australia, Eric Anthony Beecher said that profit margins in the media industry averaged 24 per cent.
Despite this problem they're having (and I really don't give a fig), Lusetich outlines moves by some money men ("three Los Angeles billionaires") to take over The Los Angeles Times, including David Geffen, the film producer.
Strikingly, Lusetich says that the paper's circulation has fallen from 1.5 million in 1995 to 775,000 today. It also keeps 900 journalists on the payroll ("about 650 more than The Australian, for example"). That makes about 860 newspapers sold for every journalist. The Australian, which publishes a circulation figure of 132,461 on its Web site (although the figures date from 2003), thus boasts 529 newspapers sold for every journalist taking home their fortnightly salary. And nobody, I think, is talking up more job cuts in Surrey Hills. I could be wrong about that, of course.
So there seems to be something wrong here.
I customarily read two newspapers every day, in their old-fashioned, paper-based format. I do so for convenience. I can lie on my red vinyl couch underneath the satellite photo of Sydney comfortably, reading the papers (I also read The Sydney Morning Herald daily) rather than clicking through the bloody online version, for christ's sake. I have no desire to read the papers on my computer, although I do visit dozens of blogs and foreign news Sites daily. Maybe I'm out of touch. But it seems to me, regardless of the move by advertisers to the Web, and away from print, that the Fourth Estate is in good nick. At least with readers like me around. We need more of me. Or, rather, THEY need more people like me to support them.
I recently took out subscriptions to both my daily reads. For a nominal fee, I get the paper every day, just by flashing a special plastic-coated card at the cashier by the exit at the newsagents. And they deliver to my apartment building on weekends. Over the Christmas period, furthermore, they deliver to my home. It's a good deal.
As for The Los Angeles Times, well, as I say, I really don't give a fig. The story happened to spark some synapses in my weary brain, and I thought I'd make a few comments. That's all. What do you think?