As I reported on Saturday LA Times, award winning, Columnist Al Martinez last column will be January 19.
This hasn't sat well with fans of his wonderful writing.
The Times is responding, as my update to the above shows, but the eloquence of some of the letters to the Times hopefully will get through their thick heads.
Case in point is this letter from Tom Olson, to Russ Stanton, and David Lauter, of the Times:
Anybody can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...
…but only the best can make an amazing soufflé!
With all that’s going wrong on the planet, I just had to sit down and contemplate what it will be like living without one of the very few things that’s really right in the world and say my piece because I rarely find exquisite soufflé…and there’s always going to be, P&J.
I don’t especially care for peanut butter and jelly; I can get that anywhere. It’s just sustenance of the last resort, and for kids. I want soufflé!
Similarly, I don’t read the Los Angeles Times because I like its news stories or its opinions expressed on the Op-Ed pages especially better than any other major news media outlets, which is supposed to be the core of a newspaper’s “peanut butter and jelly” existence. Sadly, I can get about the same opinions and news in just about any other major newspaper in the U.S. Rather, it’s like a kid and having their mother tell you, “take the medicine because it’s good for you” is really why I read the Los Angeles Times, because it’s convenient to read since it’s just outside my front door as opposed to the other newspaper options. It’s a counter opinion to my own. But as I wrote, many other newspapers offer similar fare, and I can get that just about anywhere, just like P&J.
In fact, I disagree with your guys’ opinions in the Op-Ed pages about 60% of the time. I’m also skeptical of your news coverage (from local to international) as I find it consistently “tilted,” which I’ll point out in an e-mail that will shortly follow this one and includes a URL making it pretty clear-cut as to some really “hard-edged” international news (with pictures and video) that isn’t being reported. I can tell you why it’s not being reported; it’s not “popular.” Yet, it’s international in scope, it’s immediate/timely and “big,” and almost no one’s saying anything about it in the major news organizations. Maybe it’s also one of the reasons readership’s declining across the board for all major news organizations, because what we’re really getting is just, P&J?
Yet, I digress.
Which brings me back to one of the “few things that’s really right in the world” and what I really, really like(!) about the Los Angeles Times. After living around the planet for a couple of decades, I now consider Los Angeles “home.” Part of that “home” is my “love/hate” relationship with the Los Angeles Times. What keeps bringing me back to the Los Angeles Times, as opposed to the other similar options out there I could read instead, is that after every time I get angry with something you guys either wrote (usually Op-Ed), or didn’t write (“news” coverage) or way it was written (news coverage), are the other things that fortify the Los Angeles Times and raise it to the level of…fine reading cuisine. They’re also the things in it that help “tune me in” to what makes Los Angeles tick and makes me feel a microscopic, yet still important and permanent part of this great city.
Al Martinez’s column is a key part of what makes the Los Angels Times, soufflé and not simply, P&J. From Al’s column I get wit, insight, off-the-wall-surprises and oblique opinions, while usually learning something new I never considered before. Like soufflé, these experiences are difficult to create, unique, incredibly delicate yet full of the “flash and dazzle” I expect from a world class newspaper that brings me back to it each and every day. There are so many other options you guys could seriously consider to simply cutting Al Martinez (and others) you’ve not considered (see a suggestion below), but it’s not my job to be the CFO, Product Manager, hack, slicer and Grim Reaper. Though I could be, if I don’t buy your paper any longer…
If I can’t have soufflé, I won’t read your…P&J!
PS: There are other, very reasonable options to consider. Consider this one option following:
· Everyone taking a significant pay cut to keep things rolling, and I mean EVERYONE. Others I know in other companies of late have been given this option. If they didn’t take it, a lot of people were going to be canned including those who wouldn’t take the pay cut.
o Russ, have you considered taking a pay cut? What about you, David? Or is it instead the opinion of the “decision makers” at the L.A. Times, “I got mine and bummer for you?” CEOs at the car companies have taken pay cuts, even more will take pay cuts. If that’s what it takes to make some soufflé, then Giddy UP! But I don’t get the sense that anyone in particular at the L.A. Times is willing to “take one for the team” and keep the whole ship together. Easier is to make folks “walk the plank” because you can.
o Yes, this is a difficult time and advertisers are cutting back their spending. If you cut back salaries until better times arrive, you could get:
§ Respect by your subordinates for looking out for their welfare
§ An overall moral boost that other newspapers won’t have (talk about a leadership opportunity on a national scale)
§ Loyalty that could keep folks onboard when things are more, rosy
§ A renewed sense of teamwork to weather the worst and generate some extraordinary performance
It would be nice to be pleasantly surprised that something related to the above would be implemented, Al would remain onboard, and everyone would be doing all they could to make the difference in keeping the ship as intact as possible through this short-term, financially trying time.
A very powerful plea sent on Sunday evening that, so far, has not been responded to.
It will be interesting to see how they DO respond to this well stated arguement. ;-D
In the meantime, Al wrote his next to last column, yesterday, and it will touch your heart very deeply.