Live where you live

NEW YORK — On my flight up to the We Media conference, I picked up a copy of the New Yorker and found a (criminally unavailable online) Ken Auletta piece about the strains of Tribune ownership on the LA Times.

I was struck by how pat the whole picture painted seems — corporate bosses under Wall Street pressure slashing costs as revenues decline; journos sneering at local coverage while insisting that expensive international investigations and awards are all that matters; newsrooms and boardrooms so hopelessly out of synch that they’re not even speaking the same language…

It’s the type of stuff I wrote about in a "manifesto" just over a year ago. A manifesto that has been painstakingly shaped into a plan. A plan that we’re now starting to execute.

As a newspaperman, I found it depressing. As an entrepreneur, I found it reassuring.

Some key quotes:

The people who decide the fate of Los Angeles’s newspaper now live in Chicago.

Dean Baquet:

It’s an experience that reporters don’t have much anymore, where you cover the town you live in and see the impact of your stories.

Baquet again:

We haven’t mastered making the paper feel like it is edited in Los Angeles.

John Carroll:

If we decide that we’re not going to cover the world ourselves, we’ll become a second-tier paper.

This particular quote is symbolic of the problem that major market editors need to face up to: If you’re the LA Times, your primary responsibility is to cover LA. If there are resources to do more than that, then more power to you. If not, then the seven part Pulitzer-winning series on Asian labor practices will just have to be won by somebody else.

PaperOr, as it was put more elegantly, in one of my favorite newspaper movies:

Paul Bladden, New York Sentinel:
Well, I hope you’re satisfied, @$#! You just blew your chance to cover the world!

Really. Well guess
f@%#$&* what? I don’t really f@%#$&* care. You wanna
f@%#$&* why? Because I don’t f@%#$&* live in the f@%#$&* world! I
live in
f@%#$&* New York City!

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.