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Nieman: Blogs, SEO chief and Facebook comments result in traffic increase for LA Times

August 16th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Traffic

The Los Angeles Times is experiencing an increasing amount of traffic, which Nieman Journalism Lab is attributing to engaging with its audience using its blogs.

In March the site had more than 160 million pageviews; in May it was 189 million, bucking the downward trend of many other major US sites. The Nieman report states:

That doesn’t mean the LA Times is going to lap the New York Times or the Huffington Post when it comes to reader counts. But the numbers are still impressive, and more so when you consider the secret sauce at the heart of it all: a full embrace of blogging that adds voice in some corners, emphasises timeliness in others, and has opened new doors for reader engagement. On latimes.com, news is getting the blog treatment and blogs are getting the news treatment. “Most of our blogs are reported stories,” said Jimmy Orr, managing editor/online for the Times. “What we’re seeing is big increases in our blogs, and that’s where a lot of the breaking news is.

The post goes on to explain some other changes at the LA Times, too. The site has recently added an SEO chief, “who works on the copy desk to optimise headlines” resulting in a “65 per cent rise in traffic from search and a 41 per cent jump in traffic from Google as compared to this time last year”.

Another move by the LA Times is to make the site more social by adding Facebook comments to around 50 per cent of articles, a move that has resulted in a 450 per cent increase in referrals from Facebook, according to Nieman’s post.

It also plans to expand its use of Facebook as a commenting system because of encouraging results it’s seen so far. The goal is a virtuous circle: A bigger community leads to more traffic leads to more impact for the Times’ journalism.

It is worth reading the full post on the LA Times’ traffic report which lists examples of the LA Times blogs, including LA Now, “which looks like a blog, but is actually a driver for breaking news”.

 

 

 

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Mexican drug cartels silencing country’s reporters

August 18th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Press freedom and ethics

Reporting on press freedom issues in China, Russia, South Africa, Sudan or elsewhere, we are accustomed to thinking of censorship as the work of the government and the judiciary. But according to a Los Angeles Times report, newspapers in Mexico are subject to an altogether different kind of restriction – “narco-censorship”.

It’s when reporters and editors, out of fear or caution, are forced to write what the traffickers want them to write, or to simply refrain from publishing the whole truth in a country where members of the press have been intimidated, kidnapped and killed.

Drug traffickers are reportedly co-opting the country’s journalists, who fear for their life following the murder or disappearance of more than 30 reporters since a drug-war was declared on the cartels by President Felipe Calderon in December 2006.

From the border states of Tamaulipas and Chihuahua and into the central and southern states of Durango and Guerrero, reporters say they are acutely aware that traffickers do not want the local news to “heat the plaza” — to draw attention to their drug production and smuggling and efforts to subjugate the population. Such attention would invite the government to send troops and curtail their business.

And so the journalists pull their punches.

Full report at this link…

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Tribune agreement could bring bankruptcy exit

April 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Legal

US newspaper publisher Tribune Company has reached an agreement with its creditors and lenders that will help it emerge from bankruptcy protection later this year, according to news from Reuters.

Tribune, which publishes the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, filed for bankruptcy in 2008. The new agreement settles  all potential claims stemming from the 2007 $8.2 billion (£5.4 billion) Tribune leveraged buyout by Sam Zell in 2007.

The agreement has come under criticism from a group of junior boldholders holding $1.2bn (£780 million) of Tribune debt. They claim to have been unfairly cut out of the negotiating process, and have further criticised the make-up of the creditors committee, which includes bank lenders, normally excluded from such groups.

Full story by Reuters at this link.

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FishbowlNY: Atlantic Media announces 2010 Michael Kelly Award finalists

March 30th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events

Atlantic Media today announced the finalists for the 2010 Michael Kelly Award. The award recognises fearless journalism in the pursuit of truth.

The finalists are:

Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times

For their coverage of malfunctioning cars produced and recalled by Toyota.

Sheri Fink, ProPublica

For her coverage of medical treatment in the wake of Hurricane Katrina

Jeffrey Gettleman, the New York Times

For his coverage of pirates in Somalia, the of spread of Islamic radicalism, and mass rape in eastern Congo.

David Rohde, the New York Times

For his coverage of his own kidnap and seven-month imprisonment by the Taliban, and his eventual escape.

Michael Kelly, a former editor of the Atlantic and the National Journal was killed while reporting from Iraq in 2003.

Full story at this link…

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US Digest: media echo-chambers; one-man bands; LA (Times) real estate agents

Talking about making sausages

Dispatches from inside the “echo-chamber of mediated Manhattan” today, courtesy of the NYT’s David Carr. Carr has an interesting piece up on what he sees an increasing amount of news on the news: ‘Breaking the story that isn’t

As a media reporter, I’m obviously not one to suggest that the activities of journalists are not a legitimate source of inquiry. But I worry that the incremental needs of an always-on Web — everyone wants to know what the state of play is at any given moment — will imperil the practice of longer-form journalism, the kind that demands time, an open mind, a lot of questions and sometimes results in dead ends.

As a media reporter reporting on a media reporter reporting on over-zealous media reporting, I’m really obviously not one to suggest that the activities of journalists are not a legitimate source of inquiry.

As Carr puts it, “the manufacture of sausage is sometimes as much the point as the sausage itself”.

These US Digest posts are little more than an aggregation, a round-up of published material, but Carr has the close online scrutiny of ongoing stories in his sights.

Twitter and blogs may have become part of advancing the story, but it’s more likely that incremental updates on what the reporters are up to — or misleading rumors about same — may harden the opposition, button up sources and sometimes derail investigations.

So at what point does the navel-gazing jeopardise good stories? How much talking about making sausages spoils the taste of them?

Carr’s piece may have been prompted by the attention paid to his paper’s coverage of the Governor Patterson scandal, which he refers to as “wild and wildly off-base rumours”. Paying the most attention was the ever-vigilant NYTPicker.

“The deeper sounds of a small journalistic orchestra

Journalists complaining about cost-cutting moves toward ‘one-man band’ journalism isn’t anything new. Journalists extolling the virtues and opportunities of ‘one-man band’ journalism isn’t anything new either.

But using a handful of good examples Howard Kurtz has produced a decent, objective edition of Media Notes today looking at both sides of the coin. Lazy journalists living in the past be warned, it also includes some intimidating tales of multi-tasking.

The highlight of the piece is the story of one journalist’s remarkable transformation, graduating from suits and ties to baseball caps and a dirty hatchback:

A coat-and-tie journalist who has worked in television news for 27 years, Broom had to reinvent himself – with the aid of a three-day boot camp on shooting video – when he joined the Gannett station in 2007. Now he wears a black jacket and black Channel 9 cap and rarely goes to the newsroom. Instead he cruises the area in an unwashed white Honda hatchback, its front seat filled with a Dell laptop, police radio, tripod and Sony HVR-V1U video camera.

Kurtz’s article is balanced, and doesn’t jump to defend the profession against the suggestion that journalists should be able to do it all, but there is a simple reminder that standards may be at risk:

A one-man band is cheaper, quicker and more nimble — but cannot produce the deeper sounds of a small journalistic orchestra.

No press pass, no get out of jail free card

Student journalist Cameron Burns finds himself on the other side of the story today in The Daily Californian, after finding himself charged at by riot police on a California freeway at the end of last week.

Covering a demonstration over public education funding for student paper The Daily Californian, Burns had left his press pass in the office and was tackled to the ground and arrested alongside the protesters, despite repeated assertions that he was a journalist.

The result? A twenty hour stint in jail and a court appearance scheduled for April 6.

L.A. Times disappears behind paywall Johnny Depp

From Reuters, news of dismay among the L.A. Times’ readership after the front page – “our most valuable real estate” according to Times’ spokesperson John Conroy – was replaced by a mock front page adorned with a huge advert for Tim Burton’s new Disney-backed Alice in Wonderland adaptation.

It seems some readers have been particularly offended by the decision to use a mock-up front page in the background of the ad, which includes the paper’s masthead, although the word ‘advertisement’ is written underneath in small letters.

“We made it clear that this was a depiction of the front page, rather than a real front page of the newspaper,” said Conroy. “We had an unusual opportunity here to stretch the traditional boundaries and deliver an innovative ad unit that was designed to create buzz.”

Perhaps the style of the L.A. Times advert is particularly galling, but as the Reuters article points out, it is not the first quality newspaper to exploit the value of the technique, called a ‘cover-wrap’.

The nationally circulated USA Today drew criticism for a pseudo edition of its newspaper distributed at an AIDS conference in Geneva as a promotion for a pharmaceutical company. The Wall Street Journal and other dailies have run partial wrap sleeves around the outsides of their papers.

I’m not sure how the film reviews page rates in real estate terms, but the film producers are in luck significantly less people will have gone for a viewing there, where the film didn’t make quite the same splash.

Fading to Black have an image of the cover here.

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AP: LA Times and Washington Post ending joint news service

October 1st, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Over on Editor & Publisher, a story from the AP: the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post are breaking up their news service partnership after 47 years. The divorce announced this week takes effect on January 1.

“Beginning then, the Los Angeles Times will distribute some of its best work through a news service jointly owned by newspaper publishers McClatchy Inc. and the Tribune Co, the Times’ owner.”

Full story at this link…

More over at Washington Post.

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NiemanJournalismLab: Two paid content ‘cautionary tales’ from 2004

February 11th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

“Given the recent secret memos and TIME cover stories, the topic of ‘paid content’ has once again grabbed the spotlight,” comments the Lab’s Tim Windsor. But, he warns, don’t forget to look back to two ‘cautionary tales’ from 2004: paid content efforts by Los Angeles Times CalendarLive and Albuquerque Journal.

Full post at this link…

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MediaGuardian: Jeff Jarvis on LA Times covering entire payroll through online advertising

“Note well this moment in the history – and I do mean history – of newspapers: the editor of the Los Angeles Times, Russ Stanton, said the paper’s online advertising revenue is now sufficient to cover the Times’s entire editorial payroll, print and online,” begins Jarvis. Full story….

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Eric Ulken’s next assignment: the online world, from around the world

November 21st, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

The LA Times interactive technology editor Eric Ulken is off to trot the globe, after ten years working in newspapers.

“Now I hope to effect change from the outside”, he writes.

“Earlier this month, I left my job as interactive technology editor at the Los Angeles Times to travel and learn and share stories about the great work taking place in online journalism around the world. I love the Times, my work and my colleagues, but I’ve decided it’s time to try something new: reporting.”

Read about his plans on his blog.

Come visit Journalism.co.uk in Brighton, Eric!

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Los Angeles Times appoints Eddy W. Hartenstein as publisher

August 18th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Uncategorized

The Los Angeles Times has named Eddy W. Hartenstein as its new publisher, the Associated Press (via the New York Times) has reported.

Hartenstein replaces David Hiller, who resigned from the post last month.

A former satellite television executive with DirecTV, Hartenstein has no experience in the newspaper industry.

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