Los Angeles Magazine speaks to five former editors of the LAT about what the paper was like then – and where it’s going today. The overall picture is as grim as you’d expect: The good old days are good and dead and the industry is headed to hell in a handbasket. All that. Funny thing is, we remember some of these guys, and there were as many gripes during their tenures as now.
Shelby Coffey III for instance can wax poetic all day about the “tremendously stimulating time” he had as editor-in-chief from ’89-’97 and all the bureaus and new editions that were added under his watch. But let’s not forget that many of those bureaus were ghosts towns by ’95 populated by quasi-legally employed “stringers.”
Michael Parks seems to benefit the most from 20/20 hindsight, even offering his perspective of how he’d run the paper in today’s climate: “You have to get more imaginative in your coverage choices. The Los Angeles Times should not run and hunt with The New York Times and The Washington Post. It’s sui generis. It needs to be reported, written, and edited for the people of Southern California.” He doesn’t mention any other innovative ways to increase the paper’s funding. We’re guessing that’s a sore subject.