FBLA asked local luminaries, librarians and a Swiss business student to weigh in on one of the most important institutions any city has: Its newspaper.
We’ve been overwhelmed with responses from all manner of smart, thoughtful people (except Neal Pollack who told us, simply, “I have to pass on this. Sorry.” Dick).
We’ll be printing the results of our LAT poll until we get to the bottom of what should be done to save our hometown paper — or until another celeb gets divorced/knocked up and completely distracts us — whichever comes first.
Of our sample so far, 26 people subscribe to the paper (a mix of Sunday onlies and weekday subscribers), 16 read the paper online and four can’t be bothered to look at that rag at all.
Our subscribers tended to be an enthusiastic, if critical lot. Joanne Carson, ex-wife of Johnny, for instance reads the paper daily over breakfast but thinks the paper could be radically improved with a pets section:
Q: What’s the one thing you’d like to see the paper add?
A: STORIES ABOUT PET HERO’S, PET SUCCESS STORIES, PET HUMAN INTEREST STORIES
But not all subscribers are inky-handed. Among our online readers is subscriber Chris Ayres of the London Times, who says:
“Yes, I subscribe, and I throw it unwrapped into my recycling basket every day. I keep meaning to cancel it, because in all honesty I read just about all of the LA Times online now, and I really like the website design. This makes me wonder if the circulation decline is being offset by online readers. Occasionally, I’ll take a hard-copy of one of Dan Neil’s articles down to Fatburger with me. He’s very entertaining.”
Kevin F. Sherry, a PR guy and former LAT reporter says he only reads it online because he wants to know what’s going on, you know, now:
Q: What’s one thing you’d want to change?
A: “Less reporting of stuff we read about online yesterday. More analysis of that. And more features and local coverage. That’s all papers can do to compete anymore.”
But, my oh my, are the online readers a loyal bunch. Dan Reines, a journalist-turn-business-school student who recently moved to Switzerland, still logs on:
“I just cancelled because we moved to Switzerland. But I got the Times
delivered for most of the previous 25 years, and I’ll probably get it
again when we return home. Right now, I read it online, I’d say, four
days a week.”