Monday, February 16, 2009

Imagining the worst

It looks like the first big city in southern California to go naked without a daily paper won’t be Los Angeles.

So says noted L.A. writer and historian D.J. Waldie at Where We Are, a KCET blog focused on examining "LA’s twinned identities as urban and suburban," with deft and clear analysis.

Waldie calls the decline of MediaNews a case of "self-cannibalism" - which gets the point across with gruesome efficiency.

Although he doesn't dig too deeply, Waldie points out that pursuing "legacy values," has led to incessant cuts that bleed away a newspaper's value, until the axe falls on the final physical assets - property and equipment.

The PT (with most of the MediaNews Group) is making that final passage. The PT sold off its block-long building on Pine Avenue and moved to rented quarters in a nearby office tower (where the paper and its staff have continued to shrink).

It looks like the first big city in southern California to go naked without a daily paper won’t be Los Angeles.

We don't think it's quite that bleak yet, but there's no denying the dangers Waldie has pointed out. Without decisive action, the Press-Telegram is in real danger, and the city of Long Beach deserves better. But we continue to believe in newspapers, and the potentially bright future for responsible journalism that serves not only as a profitable business, but as a worthwhile civic institution that serves its readers and community with passion and commitment.


Kris H said...

D.J. Waldie, aka Don Waldie, has also been the City of Lakewood's spokesman for many years. Couldn't count the number of times we've relied on him - usually on deadline - for color, an interesting backstory or maybe some historical perspective. Guys like Waldie and institutions like the PT (at least a PT staffed with veteran writers) are indespensable in that regard.

Anonymous said...

We all have to ask ourselves is this paper really going to be here in 2-5 years and can we do anything about it?

You can't listen to septuagenarian " leaders " like Rich Archbold and Larry Allison, who keep saying this paper will be here for years. This is proof they have no clue as to what is going on.

All you can do is have a plan B.

Anonymous said...

"What's your Plan B?" is Topic A for advertising side people as well, according to a piece in Advertising Age: via Romenesko. Help! The sun is falling!

Anonymous said...

If things are not that dire yet, they will be. And there will be little warning. One day, the PT will publish a daily newspaper. The next, it will not.

And THEN, as they did after each of the bleak events to befall the PT in recent years, local politicians will show up to say "What the heck just happened?"

The roster of people who find the PT "indispensible" is dwindling by the day. I hope all the good people remaining at the Press-Telegram can do what is best for themselves and their families.

I just hope the Union can keep people informed in an honest and thorough way about the developments. Because all the great words about the PT being a Long Beach institution mean nothing to the people in Colorado who are pulling the strings.

I fear that the Press-Telegram no longer means a damn thing to its own leadership. Other than a steady paycheck and the knowledge that their journalistic souls are forfeit.