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Weekly and Daily

Red-tagged on Spring.

Let's talk about two local journalism institutions for a minute, weekly and daily.

Starting with the LA Weekly. In this Jill Stewart bloggie column you see nearly everything wrong at the graying alt weekly.

Get beyond the grotesque Successories parody photo--bloggers look at photos like that and say, "Well, I'd like to link, but I don't want to hit my readers with that, especially for breakfast"-- and try to get beyond the Weekly's usual punctiliousness when it calls a past Weekly cover story "Los Angeles on $300,000 a day"--of course, it was "Los Angeles on $300,000 a year."

But to keep refering to yourself so much, telling your readers over and over how wonderful you are! That's the big thing that's wrong with the Weekly, really: continuously, gratuitously self-referent, it mostly feels like the real purpose of the Weekly is to promote old stories in the Weekly written by the dwindling number of scribes who still find favor there. You see it in almost every story. You see it outside of Culver City, whenever the writers promote themselves.

You wonder, when the publication never misses an opportunity to pat itself on the back over cold criminal cases and past sell-by date news, why isn't it covering the campaign of a here-and-now candidate like Tomas O'Grady, who wants to cut City Councilmember salaries in half, and who could actually affect things in the here and now?

While I'm not anxious to validate the sticker-shock Council salaries, I might also like to point out that it's not really valid to compare LA to Pittsburgh either, as each council district in LA (255,000, not counting undocumented, of which we've heard there are a few) has as nearly as many people in it as all of Pittsburgh does (311,000 total with far fewer undocumented). Salaries aside, at least one valid purpose of the grand council staffs is to service the grand council districts; when you want something done on your block, you don't call the city department that does it, you call your Councilmember, who is often aspiring to service an area as large and as populated as St. Louis or Pittsburgh.

But hold on. Click across town, where the LA Times tries so hard to tap out something relevant to the City too. Today...the former fishwrap of record endorses...Paul Krekorian for Council District 2!

I know, you're stunned. But listen to what they say about the Valley in doing so:
For whatever reason, Valley political contests tend to attract unknown candidates motivated by a deep dislike of local government but lacking public sector experience and often laboring under fuzzy notions of how government works.
You mean, just like Carmen Trutanich--whom you endorsed?

Yes, the Times thinks that when it steps out-of-the-box it's being visionary, and that all you people in the Valley who care about the way the City works are yahoos. This comes, mind you, after pretty much making a case for Paul Krekorian based on his own contrarian positions on how local government works.

The editorial also called Krekorian's win over Chris Essel a "surprise" among political insiders. I wonder which one of those "insiders" were so inside with the Times as to get this fourteen point whooping so wrong.

The funny thing about the editorial board of the Times is that a few former Weekly-ites sit on it. And when they were at the Weekly, they seemed to actually know what was going on in the City. But those former blithe spirits and firebrands are now made meek at the Times by the velvet-coffined stodginess, by the dwindling-yet-increasingly bluehaired homeowner reader-base, and by natural self-preservation impulses as they go gray and contemplate retirement themselves.

Conversely, the zeitgeist of the Weekly is established by two former Times scribes, Drex Heikes and Stewart, whose political complexions were far better suited for a declining, aging Times readership than for alternative media.

The result of these rough mixes at both papers: a weekly that can only be trusted to be self-referent and grotesque, and a daily that can't be trusted at all. For the City to learn about itself, about what it does and what it is, we need a weekly that's a lot more reckless, and a daily that's a lot more careful.