Tuesday, December 11, 2007

LAT competition moving in?

The scramble to provide our community with exceptional local news coverage will no doubt heat up when the Los Angeles Times' plan to open a reporter bureau in or near our area gets implemented early next year. From an LAT memo: "The goal is to provide our readers a steady stream of high quality, sophisticated stories that will enliven A-1 and the California section for readers across Southern California."

We want to continue to provide our readers with a steady stream of high quality stories for our readers. We work damn hard every day to do so. But unlike the Tribune-owned LAT staff, we're underpaid, under-staffed and overworked (did we mention underpaid?) so its a constant struggle to cover the stories we know our community wants and needs.

Why is it a daily struggle, you ask? Because our corporate owner is on a consolidate-to-cut-costs mission that has stripped us of the needed resources that help us do our jobs — resources like newsroom support staff who answer newsroom phones, or fact-check or edit our copy — folks who free us up to do what we do best: gather and report the news.

Sure we want a fair and equitable contract with a decent wage and a guarantee that our work stays here rather than outsourced to who-knows-where, but the MediaNews corporate mandate that sucks all profits out of Long Beach (you can hear that big sucking sound all the way to Denver), has left scant resources here and the word is that more cuts will come. Makes it a tough task to chase down and cover the great local stories that are waiting to be told.

We don't want the LAT taking over coverage of stories we and our predecessors have covered in this community for 110 years. But nothing MediaNews has done thus far indicates it will care one way or another. Just show it the money.

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