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How I Learned to Stop Worrying, etc.

October 15, 2006 | 10:58 am

We are into Day Four of the L.A. Times' Manhattan Project (for background, see the links and especially comments at this post, and also this one). Commenter Gingerguy has divvied up the reader suggestions/diagnoses so far thusly:

8...liberal bias of the Times
7...improve the content
4...focus more on regional news
3...increase online vs print
?...could not figure out what they wanted
4...all other opinions

To further the discussion into the concrete, here's a tripartite question for the peanut gallery:
1) Name three features you think the paper should add.
2) Name three features you think the paper should kill.
3) Name three features you like just the way they are.

"Feature" can mean anything from Column One to a comic strip to a columnist to My Favorite Weekend, etc.

Meanwhile, here's the latest batch of reax to the not-so-top-secret plan to save the world Times:

The LA Weekly's Nikki Finke continues her enthusiasm for all things Dean Baquet:

So now there's yet another distraction. Seems a couple of those Baquet cultists went to him with an idea to find ways that the paper could reengage readers. Suddenly, the paper drops a bomb: there's a new emergency "Manhattan Project" overseen by some handpicked internal committee of reporters and editors. Sheesh, you couldn't make up stuff this hilarious. The very idea of the lunatics taking over the asylum, down to the ridiculous name that demonstrates yet again that the men who run the LA Times are forever NY-centric in their thinking, sadly. Do these people even know we're in one of the busiest news periods of the entire year? So while the Washington Post and The New York Times are scooping the LA Times on the biggest stories of the day, Spring Street will be wasting its diminishing resources senselessly contemplating its navel. The brass at Tribune Co. must be laughing their asses off: after all, the more time that the LAT worker bees busy themselves with this project, the less time they have to battle the Chicago bosses. The readership problem and its solution don't require rocket scientists, much less a trio of investigative journalists.

Media critic Matthew Sheffield gives some recommendations:

* Stop patronizing to your audience. You aren't better than them. That you know how to write or edit a story says nothing about your intellectual capacity.
* Recruit newer blood into the pages. Expand your employment search beyond the drones coming out of America's journalism schools. These kids have no experience with real life and no educational background beyond journalism. And for god's sake, hire some conservatives and libertarians.
* Put the kibosh on the left-wing bias. Stop with the immature photos of Republicans. Stop treating people who oppose abortion like they're the scum of the earth. Start realizing that most folks don't want higher taxes like you do.
* Expand your outreach to the reader. The regular American has a lot to say.

The blogger known as penraker looks at Saturday's Meghan Daum column in which she interviews a former member of the Weather Underground, and comments:

Maybe the Times would not need a "Manhattan Project" if their writers had anything more than the moral intuition of a gnat.

And a journalist calling himself "Gadfly" observes:

The seven-day daily has never been the same since the AP, Reuters and AFP began providing free online content. And that genie will never be put back in the bottle.

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