Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thoughts pingponging left and right in the rain

Greetings, friends,

This will be a quick one, featuring more of other peoples' thoughts than my own, but I wanted to shoot a couple things your way to begin another week.

I already wrote about Jim O'Shea's sad goodbye from the Times last week, so I won't linger on that much longer. I did want to pick up on one thing he said in his farewell remarks (which I'm picking up from LAObserved):

"We journalists have our faults, but we also have a lot to offer. Too often we’ve been dismissed as budgetary adolescents who can’t be trusted to conserve our resources. That is wrong. Journalists and not accountants should seize responsibility for the financial health of our newspapers so journalists can make decisions about the size of our staffs and how much news remains in our papers and web sites."

And to that, I say: well said. Mr. O'Shea is entirely right and it's refreshing to hear that coming from a newsroom leader. What a shame it has to come as he's being shown the door, but that doesn't make his sentiment any less valid. It doesn't have to come with us storming the accountants' offices with pitchforks and pickaxes. We can seize back control another way-- through producing work people want to read and pay for. While I don't think we'll ever get rid of the dollar-chasers and long distance micromanagers, we can at least keep them at bay by putting out a good product.

Actually, let me amend that to say "continuing to put out a good product." This paper/Web site has come a long way in recent years, largely through the creativity and hard work of people like you. So, as uncertain as the future looks for the industry, we're gonna have to keep at it.

A second thing to notice, one of our former colleagues, Mark Lacter, tracked down our former boss, Tracy Rafter. Read his link ( to the LABJ story ( She's working for a business group that aims to counteract the political power of unions. Out of respect for the woman who used to bring us ice cream, I'll refrain from comment, but you can probably guess how I feel about that.

And thirdly, to end on a positive note, check out this letter from one of our union pals to the north ( Sara Steffens is one of the folks with the herculean task of taking on MediaNews' BANG anti-union campaign. It's a tall order, but her message is one of the most reassuring, reasonable descriptions of the values of a union I've ever read. And a reminder of things we should learn from and follow. Well said, sister.

OK, folks, that'll do it for me on this rainy, rainy Sunday. Hope everyone's dry, warm and enjoying themselves. We'll see y'all soon at happy hour.



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