LA Times Editor Responds to the NYT’s Ill-Timed Sideswipe

Like most of the LA media world, ourselves included, LA Times editor Geoffrey Mohan was not impressed with the New York Timesextremely belated piece on the struggles at the LA Times under Tribune Company ownership. So he decided to let the NYT know about his displeasure, penning a letter to the paper that he CC’d to Romenesko and the Columbia Journalism Review.

A taste:

I was shocked today (1/24/11) to find there are people who gripe about the good old days in Los Angeles, and I thank the New York Times for visiting our city to tell us they were here. Equally, I thank you for couching your astonishing discovery with dismissals of the late accomplishments of the bemoaned Los Angeles Times.

“Never mind,” Jeremy Peters instructs, that “The [Los Angeles] Times is considered a front-runner to win a Pulitzer Prize this year for its coverage of city officials in Bell who gave themselves enormous salaries, a story that tapped into a growing national outrage over wasteful government spending.

“Or that it still maintains, despite all the bloodletting since the paper was bought in 2000 by the Tribune Company, 13 foreign bureaus, more than any other large metropolitan daily except The Washington Post.

“Or that it is the only big-city daily that still employs a battalion of correspondents stationed in cities across the country.

What matters, apparently, is that a 66-year-old merchant in a “quaint” neighborhood misses “the old Hollywood starlets and socialites who graced the society pages.” For that, we are not the “world-class paper” that we used to be.

Never mind? That’s a dagger in the backs of good journalists who have survived a withering battle and managed to hang on to our ideals, quality and integrity. I pray the New York Times doesn’t have to close sections, shrink its newsprint, whore its front page to advertisers and cut its staff in half while a gang of former radio hatchet men hired by a megalomaniacal real estate imp guts the company. But let’s note that The New York Times’ institutional stamina remains untested by the kinds of trials we have overcome.

Zing! Love the reference to Sam Zell as the “megalomaniacal real estate imp.” We might have said “slug” instead of “imp.” You  know, leaving a trail of horrible mucus wherever he treads. But nothing wrong with imp. It’s definitely funnier.

Read the rest of Mohan’s letter at Romenesko.

Previously on Fishbowl LA: New York Times A Couple of Years Late Reporting On the LA Times’ Struggles