Former and current LA Times staffers have taken it upon themselves to not only blame but also sue Sam Zell for their current predicament.
As if it was Zell’s hubris that led them to think they were a national (international?!?!) paper. As if it was Zell’s ignorance that led the Times to have a horrible Web product for years. As if it was Zell’s leadership that thought endless jumps on meandering stories was a good idea.
Jeff Jarvis suggests that LA Times staffers should sue themselves instead of Sam Zell:
The Times veterans should not be suing Zell. They should be suing themselves. Oh, I, too, am angry at the state of newspapers in America but I’m angry at the right people. The LA Times’ problems — like those of other papers — were caused by by decades of egotistical and willfully ignorant neglect by the owners, managers — and staff — at the paper.
When more than one editorial regime had the hubris to think that they should turn the Times into a national – even international – paper, opening bureaus all over the globe and insisting on writing every commodity news stories under their own bylines while letting local coverage suffer, did you protest, litigators? No, those bylines and bureaus were yours.
Honestly, who is more to blame for the current situation at the Times? Sam Zell who is trying to rescue a sinking ship (even if he is doing a very poor job at it and has some bad ideas) or the former captains and shipmates who drove that ship into an iceberg?
On the heels of a class-action lawsuit accusing L.A. Times owner Sam Zell of wrecking the newspaper, dissident Times writers are now suing 425,000 former subscribers for “failing to appreciate our bodacious journalism.”
“By recklessly canceling their subscriptions, these morons have caused irreparable harm to the newspaper, breached their civic duty to stay fully informed, and missed some totally awesome articles by Pulitzer Prize-winning auto columnist Dan Neil, as well as money-saving Sunday coupons that could easily offset the subscription price,” the lawsuit alleges.
Additional efforts to entice subscribers included frequent use of the word schadenfreude, a front-page redesign that made the paper look like a ransom note, and gutting the Sports section, according to the lawsuit.
Times employees contend they did everything possible to maintain a relationship with the former readers. “In January 2005, to cite just one example, we published a 2,600-word Home section cover story on decorating your house in the Viennese Secession style of Art Nouveau,” the lawsuit said. “You can’t get more in touch with average readers than that!”
At least this person gets what’s going on. Zell may not being doing a great job, but it wasn’t him he drove the Times to the edge of this precipice.
Let’s get a few things straight here, shall we?
- The LA Times is not The New York Times or The Washington Post. The only time the LA Times should be mentioned in the same sentence as those two is when people are generically talking about large papers. Something like, “Why has the LA Times Web presence sucked so long when other large papers like the NY Times and Post have been much more innovative?” Or something like, “What papers have Times in their names?”
- The LA Times has willfully neglected the Web for years. I realize that Russ Stanton has breathed life into the Web presence of the Times, but it’s probably a little too late. Still, the Times’ Web presence is behind a lot of other U.S. news operations.
- The Tribune board accepted Sam Zell’s offer on April 2, 2007. He didn’t take the company private until December 20, 2007. The LA Times was in very bad shape prior to then. It’s not like magically the bottom fell out of the Times in the last year.
- If things were going so well at the Times, how come prior to Stanton being named executive editor, the Times had three editors in less than three years?