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Posts Tagged ‘Joel Sappell’

Journalist Lunches at Church of Scientology Celebrity Center

Author Maria Bustillos takes a long, fascinating look back today via at a groundbreaking 1990 LA Times series by Joel Sappell and Robert Welkos. She righly points out that the pair’s June 24-29 investigation into the Church of Scientology, the product of five years of old-school newspaper footwork, was far more courageous and substantive than the recent New Yorker-Paul Haggis piece.

As part of her report, Bustillos decided to take a late lunch at the Renaissance restaurant at the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Center on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. She gives the establishment an admirably objective thumbs up.

I asked to see a wine list, and the head waiter (whose French accent was so rich I thought he might be kidding, or practicing for an acting class) goes, “Red or white?”

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BREAKING: Joel Sappell Tinkers with Large Plastic Box on Desk, Presses Buttons and Finds Matt Drudge


While everyone else at Spring Street was busy learning the new copyediting software, Joel Sappell snuck off and got his hands on a computer again. The result:

A piece on that internet wunderkind of the late 20th Century: Matt Drudge. A front page piece, no less, on how–hold on to your porkpie, Scoop–a link on the Drudgereport can mean additional “hits” for any tech-savvy editor willing to play Drudge’s little game. As an example, 60 Minutes producers send him transcripts, hoping he’ll quote something juicy, and generate news buzz. The result:

Some journalists, the executive said, might write the story simply to avoid getting beaten by someone else.

Canny reporter that he is, Sappell learns that Drudge has a “behind the scenes assistant”, Andrew Breitbart, currently on a trip to Israel.

Nice work from Sappell–this piece takes away an lingering doubts about him left over from his stint as head of interactive where he could only hurt himself.

Who could forget Little Antonio?

FBLA wants to know who gave him a password? Don’t let it happen again.

The Sappell Rises in the Spring–LA Times. Com Editor Gets New Job


The Times’ they are a changin’. Joel Sappell, last seen as the Assistant Managing Editor for Interactive, i.e. the dismal, has been moved to the newly created position of Special Projects Editor. According to the memo, he’ll

draw on his years as a creative investigative and long-form editor to direct some of our most ambitious undertakings, with a particular emphasis on initiating projects that cross departmental borders. … The new job combines Joel’s knowledge of the Web with his breadth of newsroom experience.

As his knowledge of the Web seemed to be limited to getting a news aide to change his password, let’s hope that his newsroom experience and investigative skills carry him through.

When these memos are written, isn’t there anyone who can curb the happy talk? The Times website, on Sappell’s watch, generated mockery from readers and a scathing memo from staff members who realized how much it sucked. Remember?

Our approach to website content is, in some ways, as backward as our technology.

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Joel Sappell Off LA Times On-line; Russ Stanton In as Innovation Editor


Joel Sappell is out as Assistant Managing Editor for Interactive, and Russ Stanton will move from being current Business Editor to the new Innovation Editor (FBLA can’t believe writers come up with these titles). LA will get an new editor, but no names yet. Jim O’Shea, editor of the Times, says the new mission is

Break it on the web, expand on it in print.

Makes sense to us.

David Hiller, who did promise some big changes, wrote:

Russ’s mission, working with editors and reporters across news and features, is nothing less than the transformation of our newsroom into a 24/7 operation that breaks news all the time online (and mobile, etc.) and publishes in print with the analysis, personality, and utility that only great writers and editors can provide.</blockquote

The Times is also going for some new products. This week sees the launch of, and followed by new, integrated print and online products for Travel in February, Image/Fashion in March, and CalendarLive/CalendarWeekend in late spring.

FBLA has never felt that Sappell had any affinity for the online world.
The full memo continues.

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