Where do Los Angeles Times editors live? Why no Page One news article or photo of Friday’s 4,000-person WGA strike rally, the biggest in the guild’s history?
As you’re all aware, over the past few days there’s been a lot of criticism of the LA Times strike coverage. (And The New York Times’, which ignored the protest which is somewhat understandable since it’s based in a different city. And Variety‘s and The Hollywood Reporter‘s, but they’ve never been objective anyway.) After all, massing on Avenue Of the Stars is the equivalent of 4,000 protesters on Madison Avenue. But that may be the problem: it had to occur in NYC for the LA Times to cover it.
Ordinarily, an event like this strike – something that affects all socio-economic levels of what in many ways is still a Company town – drives newspaper sales, and sends circulation skyrocketing. Even people who don’t ordinarily read the paper will go out and buy it for an overview as well as for specific reporting and analysis about how this affects their lives and could cripple the local economy. (By comparison, DHD isn’t aimed at a general audience. DHD is focused on the entertainment industry for the entertainment industry. I report and write as if I’m speaking only to insiders.)
Still, the front page of this morning’s LA Times raises a larger issue: Namely, the continuing myopia on the part of LAT editors about the city their readers live in. The WGA march on Fox was reduced to a 655-word story on page 2 in the Business section. And the paper used an unofficial estimate of 3,500, not the WGA’s estimate of 4,000 or the LAPD’s estimate of 5,000. I’ve read articles three times as long about French wine-making. Instead of a photo of the strike on Page One, there’s a generic shot of Benazir Bhutto (albeit a big story, but you wouldn’t know it from that picture), an article about Rudy Giuliani and Bernard Kerik, and a really urgent piece about Michelin ratings and LA chefs. And for the life of me, even seven paragraphs in, I still can’t figure out what the Column One story about “A Pioneer Refuses to Fade Away” is about.
I’m tired of carping about the LA Times’ incredibly slanted coverage of this producers v writers dispute. But jeez — a Friday Business article claimed “The guild has so far resisted offers by agents and politicians to help broker a peace, according to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others.” Huh? I must be covering some other strike because my reporting shows the producers have resisted the mayor’s offer .and the governor hasn’t even offered to put himself on the hot seat yet. (If anything, anti-union Arnold is only schmoozing those powerful moguls who all gave money to his re-election campaign because he’s anti-union.) Gee, ya think this has to do with the fact that movie advertising keeps declining in the paper, and the Powers-That-Be there want to curry favor with the Powers-That-Be in showbiz?
So the real question here isn’t “What’s Wrong With this Picture?” but “What’s Wrong With This Paper?” Los Angeles deserves much, much better.