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Jarvis: ‘Zell Is Not Your Problem. You Are.’

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Jeff Jarvis goes on a surprising attack — not against Sam Zell and the Tribune Co., but against the former and current LAT staffers who are suing the company.

A usual defender of Old Media, Jarvis says reporters and editors are not blameless for the rapid decline of newspapers. Groaners by nature, journalists didn’t embrace change fast enough — shorter stories, going online, feeding the need for local news that TV (and the Internet) now dominate.

The Times veterans should not be suing Zell. They should be suing themselves. Oh, I, too, am angry at the state of newspapers in America but I’m angry at the right people. The LA Times’ problems — like those of other papers — were caused by by decades of egotistical and willfully ignorant neglect by the owners, managers — and staff– at the paper.

Will anyone at the former Times Mirror take a look in the mirror and see themselves in these descriptions? We’d love to hear from you and learn what you think.

When more than one editorial regime had the hubris to think that they should turn the Times into a national — even international — paper, opening bureaus all over the globe and insisting on writing every commodity news stories under their own bylines while letting local coverage suffer, did you protest, litigators? No, those bylines and bureaus were yours.

When the paper was the most overwritten, under-edited consumer of wasted ink and paper in the United States of America, boring its audience with jump after jump of self-indulgent text and forcing readers to flee for TV, did you get out your pencils and start trimming and tightening? No.

When the paper failed even at covering its own hometown industry, did you jump in to fill the void? No.

When the internet came, did you all — every one of you as responsible, smart journalists, on your own — leap to get training in audio and video? Did you immediately hatch new ways to work collaboratively with the vast public of bloggers able and willing to join in local journalism? Not that I saw.

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