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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Open Letter From Walter Moore To The New Publisher Of The L.A. Times

Dear Mr. Hiller:

Welcome to Los Angeles, and thank you for inviting comments from your readers in today's paper. Here are mine:

Pravda, The Politburo, And Tammany Hall

You can and should improve your paper's coverage of local government. Right now, the L.A. Times covers City Hall with the same level of scrutiny that Pravda covered the Politburo. Conspicuous by its absence from the Times is even a hint of investigative reporting. Instead, your reporters and editors seem merely to publish the press releases of local career politicians. Maybe it results from "groupthink," maybe just laziness. But whatever the cause, the newspaper you're taking over lacks any credibility when it comes to reporting on politics in the second-biggest city in America. City Hall in L.A. is essentially the Twenty-First Century's version of Tammany Hall, but your readers will never know it unless you "shake things up" at the Times. Here are two examples, which I hope you will research for yourself:

The "Big Lie" Lives: Your Paper's Coverage Of The City Budget

The first example involves the City of L.A.'s budget. Your paper accepted as true, and published without any scrutiny, the Mayor's assertion that he is a "fiscal conservative" who, by adopting a variety of cost-saving measures in the latest budget, managed to overcome a "structural deficit" of $200 million. In fact, however, he did not cut expenditures at all. If your reporters had bothered to look at this year's budget and last, they would have seen that the City's annual revenues skyrocketed by $717 million. They also would have seen that the Mayor's new budget spent all of those revenues. This could have been, and should have been, quite a story -- especially since the Mayor later hiked trash fees, saying he needed to do so to raise money to hire more police.

Potemkin Villages And The Developers Behind Them

In the upcoming election, voters in the City of L.A. will approve or reject Measure H, a billion-dollar bond proposal, ostensibly to build "affordable housing." Your paper devoted perhaps four paragraph to this item, which would impose a tax on L.A.'s homeowners for 30 years. The Daily News, by contrast, published an in-depth article, which included comments from people on both sides of the issue. The Daily News showed that the people advocating Measure H were funded by developers that receive millions of dollars in public funds already -- a connection your paper, and therefore your readers, missed entirely. Helping the homeless is one thing. Adopting a new tax to provide welfare to the rich is quite another.

What You Need To Do

You need new editors and reporters. You need people with the training, attitude and experience to challenge public officials' assertions, rather than accepting them at face value. You need people who can read a budget, people willing to make formal public records requests, people willing and able to get to the proverbial bottom of the story. Right now, you've got cheerleaders and sycophants. You need -- and our city needs -- bulldogs and true investigative reporters. Not only would a new approach serve the public interest, it would win back former subscribers and generate new ones, too. We want to read news in our newspapers, not press releases.

Walter Moore
Teacher, Lawyer and Real Estate Broker
Los Angeles


Anonymous Anonymous said:

Here! Here! Walter.

October 22, 2006 9:46 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The LA Slimes also needs to get rid of idiot reporters like Patrick McGreevy who only writes negative stories. He's lazy and reports just what people tell him instead of doing his homework. BOYCOTT BOYCOTT BOYCOTT BOYCOTT


October 23, 2006 8:38 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Agreed Walter. The Times lax coverage of recent local govt issues is one of the main reasons why I cancelled my long time subscription.

October 23, 2006 9:43 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 23, 2006 12:25 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I despise the LA Times because they refuse to cover local issues. I let my Times subscription expire shortly after moving here. The Daily Republican News is the best at uncovering City Hall antics.

Perhaps (in case any higher up from the Times is reading this, which is far-fetched) they should concentrate on deciding whether or not they are a Democrat paper or a Republican paper since they seem to have trouble deciding and maybe they should steal two of the Daily News reporters who kicks ASS. Rick Orlov is the best tell-all reporter in the City and Beth Barrett is the best bulldog reporter in the City.

October 23, 2006 2:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

How nice for the "LA ANTONIA TIMES" to have their "FACE LIFT" to the "OLD GREY HAG ON SPRING STREET" ready for the return of "HIS POLLONESS" from Asia. The Times and other MSMs are having "SCRIBEGASMS" in their lust for Democrats winning back the Congress. In reference to the "LA ANTONIA TIMES", JOURNALIST BAQUET and the other NYT wannabes must get back to good old fashion street reporting on local issues. Further, they need to become the "YANKEES" of journalism and spend money on reporters like DAVID ZAHNISTER and JILL STEWART. Give them free reign on their stories and Keep JANET CLAYTON away with herediting knife.

October 24, 2006 9:21 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

For those of us who read the Daily News and not the Times, we'll keep Jill Stewart thank you very much. She would never go BACK to the Times. She left them when they went bad.

October 24, 2006 10:21 PM  

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