Kurt Andersen vs. Michael Kinsley on the LA Times


Everybody wants to get into the act: first, Michael Kinsley, one-time LA Times absentee editor of the opinion page, thinks he knows how to fix the paper. Considering he’s the guy who hired Joel Stein, FBLA isn’t excited about the rest of his ideas. He admits:

On the editorial page (I can reveal, from the safety of hindsight) we initially had 15 people producing 21 editorials a week!

His big idea? Basically, eliminate it. As he wrote in a Times op-ed:

But now imagine the Tribune chain as a single newspaper with separate editions in each of its cities. Call it the National Tribune.

Thanks a heap, bud. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

And Kurt Andersen, writing in New York magazine, thinks the opposite. Andersen’s reasoning strikes us as sound, but it must be bitter news for the top o’ the masthead downtown:

When I polled a few of my L.A. friends, all but one (an L.A. Times writer) reported that 5 or 10 percent of their friends read the L.A. Times. And they all estimated that 30 or 40 percent of their friends read the New York Times. That’s pretty much the L.A. paper’s existential problem in a nutshell: too meager in its local coverage to make it a hometown must-read, and for the educated, affluent part of its audience–who can now buy the New York Times at any Starbucks and get it free online–redundant in its national and international coverage.

Los Angeles is a big city–a truly essential newspaper can make us all more connected to each other, and the rest of the world.