Jul 25, 2005

Times They Are A'Changin'

Go away for a month and the whole world turns upside down. Well, at least the world of the LA Times. This quote from Nikki Finke's indispensibly snarky report caught my interest.
Actually, the real tragedy here is local: the LAT now does an even crappier job covering Los Angeles than ever, and that may be the root of its readership problems. While Carroll had his eye mainly on Pulitzer Prizes, he overlooked the needs and desires of readers wanting to know what was really going on in their own backyard. This is the guy, after all, who mutated and mutilated the Metro section into “California.” Already, insiders tell L.A. Weekly, Baquet will refocus attention here at home as much as hither and yon.

I think the word "tragedy" might be overwrought but that's Finke—nothing if not sweeping. Obviously I'm thinking of the implications Baquet's home-town focus might have on the future of the paper's glancing, incoherent, rudderless coverage of Los Angeles theatre over the past four years. But then this gave me a little pause:
Dubbed Mr. Smooth for his usually cool and elegant demeanor, the onetime NYT national editor [Baquet] is also a fearsome competitor, especially when it comes to his former employer... I reported a year ago that Baquet went ballistic after four superstar LAT journalists defected in one week to the NYT, and threw a temper tantrum when entertainment-industry editor-writer Michael Cieply was even considering a job offer from there. After all, Baquet himself had organized a “Go West” migration of a handful of prominent reporters and editors from the NYT to the LAT starting in 2000.

So maybe he'll finally hire a lead theatre critic, but one from New York. On that front, I have to say that despite the rumors I heard murmured with confidence (and in confidence) by some New York journo colleagues, my sources at the Times say they've heard nothing about a hiring, or imminent hiring, of a new theatre scribe. At the rate they're going, I wouldn't hold my breath—I tried that, and it hurt, and now I'm in New York.

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