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Spring Street Project unveiled!

Sponge_street_project We may not have written about the Manhattan Spring Street Project here for a while, but that doesn't mean revolution hasn't been fomenting! The results of the FutureThink committee are in, and they are scathing. From the James Rainey article:

Los Angeles Times Editor James E. O'Shea unveiled a major initiative this morning designed to expand the audience and revenue generated by the newspaper's website, saying the newspaper is in "a fight to recoup threatened revenue that finances our news gathering."

O'Shea employed dire statistics on declining advertising to urge The Times' roughly 940 journalists to throw off a "bunker mentality" and to begin viewing latimes.com as the paper's primary vehicle for delivering news. [...]

Among the impediments the [Spring Street] group cited or implied as stalling growth at latimes.com:

· Lack of assertive leadership and adequate focus on the website, both inside The Times and at the paper's parent, Tribune Co.
· Understaffing. Latimes.com employs about 18 "talented and dedicated" editorial employees, only a fraction of the 200 employees at the Washington Post's website and the 50 employed by the New York Times' site.
· "Creaky" technology that has made it impossible for latimes.com to host live chats between readers and journalists and to let readers customize stock tables or weather reports.
· Failure to integrate the newspaper's large news staff into operations at the web, contributing to delays in posting breaking news.

What does this mean for you, the little people? Read more, after the jump.

The news article continues:

In mid-February, the paper plans to roll out a new Travel website that will focus on Southern California and allow users to book trips -- the sort of e-commerce that other newspaper sites rolled out years ago.

A "Calendarlive" site, an extension of the Times Thursday Calendar Weekend print edition, will be designed as a destination for personal entertainment choices such as restaurants, movies, theater, concerts and clubs. [...]

The paper also plans to experiment with pilot projects on "hyper local" coverage in a few, as yet unnamed, communities. Those pages would rely heavily on content such as community calendars, crime statistics, school test scores and neighborhood discussion groups, O'Shea said in an interview.

You can read Editor James O'Shea's address to the staff here. Some excerpts:

[T]he newsroom can also be a cold, defensive, insular and conservative place, plagued by a bunker mentality that hides behind tradition and treats change as a threat. [...]

One of Russ's first assignments is to set up a training regimen for everyone in the newsroom to develop an expertise on the Internet and become savvy multi-media journalists.

A whole new world in out there -- video, photo galleries, chat rooms, landing pages. And to disprove the adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, I am going to be one of his first students. This training is mandatory for everyone.

Currently we have a newspaper staff and an latimes.com staff. No more. From now on, there are no two staffs, there is just one. And we will function as one. [...]

Blog_gal

Just as a blog is not a God-given right to inflict ignorance on an unsuspecting public, there's no journalistic birthright for print reporters to write an 80 inch story when 30 inches will do. [...]

Sometime this fall, the Los Angeles Times, like every other major paper including the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and others, will adapt a 48-inch press web that will create a newspaper that will be slightly narrower than the one we currently publish.

There is no stopping this conversion. The entire industry is moving that way. Even if we were not going to make any newsroom changes, the new press web width would probably require a redesign.

This time, though, we are going to do a real redesign, one that questions and challenges every section of the newspaper, a redesign that relates individual sections to the newspaper as a whole.

If you've read this far, surely you have an opinion on all this. So why don't you leave it in the comments?

 

Comments () | Archives (2)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Rob McMillin

I admit it -- I have too damn many newspaper subscriptions. I take four newspapers, the Times, the Register, the OC Post, and the Wall Street Journal (online only). Most days, I'm lucky if I get to even crack one of them (and usually the first one I do is the Post, owing to its diminutive size); I do almost all my newsreading online anymore.

The real question I have is this: has the Times figured out a way to make money with their online editions? Has anybody? Newspapers do the huge bulk of actual reporting that goes on in this country, and whatever you think of the actual value of that activity as currently practiced, the world would be a poorer place without newspapers. That, I fear, is where this is all headed unless the dailies can somehow learn to live in a world where Craigslist is giving away their former cash cow, classified ads. And it's not at all clear to me that even charging for online subscriptions would make up for that loss.

Jason S.


Do you guys get stuff like this in your voice mail? Wow. Podcasts from the L.A Times cafeteria would be good. Real annoying stuff like people trying to talk while chewing.


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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