Tag Archives: the LA Times

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

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!

LA Times breaks web traffic record with 127m page views

The LA Times recorded 127 million page views last month – breaking its previous record of 120 million.

The site attracted 19 million unique users in July, a memo from the paper’s Meredith Artley, executive editor for interactive, said.

While the recent Californian earthquake was a contributing factor to the traffic surge, new SEO techniques and growing popularity on social bookmarking sites have had a significant impact, Artley said.

Blog traffic also grew last month rising to 12 million page views. The most popular blog, in terms of traffic, was Top of the Ticket, which recorded 1,800,770 views, according to the paper’s figures.

Spot the difference: AFP withdraws ‘digitally altered’ missile shot

Agence France-Presse (AFP) has retracted a photo of Iranian missile tests published this morning, stating the image had been ‘apparently digitally altered’ by Iran’s state media, the New York Times’ Lede section reports.

It was too late for the print editions of the LA Times, Financial Times, Chicago Tribune and others, who ran the pic on the front page, and for the BBC, New York Times and Yahoo News websites.

Below – spot the difference between 1) the AFP’s image…

Digitally altered image of Iranian missile tests from Agence France-Presse

…and 2) an image later obtained by the Associated Press:

An Associated Press image of Iranian missile testing

According to the Lede’s report, the agency said the fourth missile may have been added to mask a grounded missile that failed to launch during the test.

Editors Weblog: LA Times: blogs for politics, news for celebrities

Analysis of the LA Times’ most-read stories and most-viewed multimedia on its website shows a correlation between platforms and the topic of content.

For example, blogs on the site attract politically interested readers while the news channel is increasingly focused on ‘soft’ and entertainment news.

Eighty newsroom jobs to go at Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune is to follow the LA Times by culling newsroom jobs and reducing the number of pages in its printed editions.

Around 80 of its 578 newsroom posts are expected to be culled with further cuts appearing in non-journalistic positions.

The printed edition of the Tribune is expected to reduce the number of pages it publishes by 13 or 14 per cent each week.

Management began informing staff of the changes late on Tuesady, the Tribune itself reported.

This is the fourth round of staff cuts since 2005, when the paper had nearly 700 newsroom staff on its books. In real terms the paper expects to lose around 55 people as positions made vacant in recent months have remained unfilled.

Last week, The Los Angeles Times, another Tribune Company newspaper, announced that it would reduce the number of pages it published each week by 15 per cent anddo away with 250 staff roles, 150 of them from the newsroom.

After 250 job cuts, LA Times leading reporters head to ProPublica

Last week LA Times, one of the biggest employers of journalists in the US, announced that it would be dispensing with the services of 150 of them as part of a total 250 job losses at the paper.

Yesterday afternoon it emerged that two more journalists would likely be leaving the LA Times, but not as a direct result of the editorial cuts.

According to LA Observed, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber will be leaving the paper later in the summer to join the not-for-profit investigative start up ProPublica.

“It’s another big morale blow in the newsroom, which used to be a place where journalists aspired to reach and stay to do their best work. With new deep cutbacks coming and [LA Times owner] Sam Zell’s outbursts making many of the best journalists feel the Times’ commitment to serious news is precarious, it’s no longer surprising to see stars like Ornstein and Weber flee,” wrote Kevin Roderick.

Last week’s editorial staff cuts, which amounts to roughly 17 per cent of the employees, will be spread between the print newsroom and The Times’ web operations.

Those cuts led to this fascinating quote from Times editor Russ Stanton:

“You all know the paradox we find ourselves in,” he wrote said in a memo to the staff. “Thanks to the Internet, we have more readers for our great journalism than at any time in our history. But also thanks to the Internet, our advertisers have more choices, and we have less money.”

One hundred and fifty losses job losses against two hires doesn’t really make a great case for the internet as a growth medium for the employment of journalists, but nonetheless the growth of ProPublica and its journalistic modus operandi online marks a neat stab at Stanton’s paradox.

The ProPublica site will be fully operational later this year and plans to have almost 30 investigative reporters working on in-depth stories (it helps that self-made billionaire Herb Sandler has set up the site with a donation of $10m a year from his foundation and that it’s under the watchful eye of former WSJ editor Paul Steiger).

ProPublica will conduct investigations, largely online, in areas of significant public interest. It will also use TV documentaries to reveal on that large canvas issues that will be followed up extensively online.

It’s first major project, an investigation into US-backed Arabic language TV network Alhurra, ran on 60 Minutes two weeks ago.

Zell say that newspapers have to slim down and become more economically viable. Newspaper’s are about money, not news, that’s fairly self-evident. Little wonder then that Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber decided to walk and pursue their investigations elsewhere.

What awaits them at ProPublica?

A philanthropic backer claiming no editorial interference. No desire for profits. No ads on the site. Where almost all resources will be poured into journalism (what no free CD give away?).

The journalistic equivalent to Willy Wonka’s ‘golden ticket’, it seems.

LA Times: Los Angeles Times to cut 250 jobs

The LA Times announced yesterday that it will cut 250 jobs – 150 editorial positions – across the company in a latest effort to curb spending as reveunes plummet.

In a further cost-cutting step, the newspaper will reduce the number of pages it publishes each week by 15 per cent.

“You all know the paradox we find ourselves in,” Times Editor Russ Stanton said in a memo to the staff.

“Thanks to the internet, we have more readers for our great journalism than at any time in our history. But also thanks to the internet, our advertisers have more choices, and we have less money.”

LA Times: interactive election map and multimedia tribute to fallen soldiers

The LA Times has created two great interactive features online: the first allows users to see different voting outcomes of November’s presidential election on a map of the US.

Using data from the 2004 election, states on the map can be assigned to either Obama or McCain, showing users how a winning these constituencies will affect the candidates’ chances overall.

The second marks the Californian soldiers who have lost their lives in the Iraq conflict.

Video, image galleries and a searchable database of soldiers’ profiles have been created, accompanied by moving text tributes from family members

‘Journalism without journalists’

“Network publishing is the natural ally of traditional media,” concludes Michael Maier, founder and CEO of Blogform publishing, in his essay ‘Journalism without Journalists: Vision or Caricature?’

In the essay Maier, who founded Germany’s first online-only newspaper Netzeitung and the Reader’s Edition – a site entirely constructed from reader-submitted content, examines projects that have experimented with collaborative journalism projects from citizens and journalists such as the LA Times’ ‘wikitorial’, Dan Gillmor’s ‘bayosphere’, and the Chi-Town Daily News.

In summary, the lessons Maier took with him from these experiments to the Reader’s Edition were:

  • There needs to be a hierarchy of control over reader’s input;
  • Collaboration means working together – reader’s should be encouraged and motivated by journalists not neglected in carrying out their work;
  • “Readers who write hardly think about other readers. They are driven by self-realization.” – the content that readers submit must still address the audience’s interest;
  • To traditional media – do not view blogs as a quick-fix solution: “Several attempts have been made to integrate bloggers into old institutions in order to inject fresh air, but it was not the traditional media that changed through these efforts. Rather, the bloggers lost their spicy language and became tame to please their old-news bosses.”

Perhaps the greatest barrier to successful collaboration between traditional media and what Maier describes as network publishing, he suggests, are profit margins.

“Every day we hear the latest reports of sinking profits for newspapers. Traditional media are trying to remain profitable largely by cutting costs. New journalistic projects are—either willingly or unwillingly—nonprofit.

“The enormous pressure of the market encourages compromise, and I truly hope that NP’s [network publishing] experimental character can be saved from that. A clear focus on the reader is key to a lasting success.”

Citing the success of the Associated Press’ merger with NowPublic.com and Reuters work with Global Voices, Maier argues that it is such collaborative efforts that will shape the future of journalism – for the better.

“Ultimately, it won’t be the angry bloggers or the clueless citizen journalists, not the crazy kids from YouTube or the dark forces behind MySpace who will decide the fate of journalism. Ultimately, readers and advertisers will show what they are willing to pay for. Network Publishing is the natural ally of traditional media. Even in a completely new media world, together, they can help ensure that society gets the kind of journalism it deserves.”

For disaster reporting – change your site template and turn on social media mode

The wildfires that are raging through California and have caused half-a-million people to be ordered from their homes have encouraged news providers to ditch their normal website formats and go into wholly innovative crisis-reporting mode.

Having a design format for breaking news that’s significantly different from the usual run of breaking news helps draw attention to the scale and importance of the story.

Cluttered websites like 10news.com and KNBC.com – Cory Bergman at Lost Remote points out – have failed to get over the magnitude of the events.

Adopting a unique layout for the home page – Corry adds – can also allow more content to surface:

“If you build a breaking news layout ahead of time, it’s not that much work to execute it when the story breaks. Just flick the switch. TV sites should own breaking news, and a flexible, content-driven design plays a big part.”

It’s something BBC News also does for big stories. It abandons the usual format of running a lead and to sub-lead stories, replacing them with a single large image to direct attention to a specific story.

Sites like the LA Times and MSNBC have adopted a similar approach for the fires. The Times has a photo gallery on its front page, along with links to its interactive maps, evacuation info and quick stats on the carnage the fires are causing.

Homepage design aside, devices for reporting the breaking news On The Fly have caused some news providers to ditch the usual tools and wing it with social media.

As we posted yesterday, radio station KPBS is using Twitter to do ‘Real-Time Updates’ on its website and to direct readers to local authority announcements, its Google Map of the fires, traffic updates and addresses for evacuation centres.

News 8, a CBS affiliate in San Diego, has even (thanks to Martin Stabe @ the Press Gazette for the point) taken down its normal website and replaced it with a rolling news blog, with links to YouTube videos and necessary/emergency information.

One of those uploaded videos is from journalist Larry Himmel, who reports on his own house being destroyed: