Monday, April 12, 2010

LA Times' Dodgers "Coverage" Reaches New Lows

Look, I know that Los Angeles is more of a Lakers town than a Dodgers town, a shift that happened around the 1980s, fueled by a disparity in championship titles since then, among myriad other reasons. But Sunday's print edition sunk the LA Times to new lows, when, instead of running Dylan Hernandez' recap of the Dodgers' 7-6 loss to the Marlins Saturday, they printed copy that they pulled straight off the Associated Press wire.

That's right, the LA Times printed the exact same article that ran on ESPN, Yahoo Sports, and in any other number of media outlets that couldn't afford to send a reporter to cover the game. The LA Times ran generic copy.

In column one. In the upper left hand corner of the front page of the Sports section. To cover the city's only legitimate major league baseball team.

Oh sure, they took the time to add thumbnail headshots of George Sherrill and Matt Kemp. That took some effort in the press room, I'm sure. But the fact that online readers could get Hernandez' perspective and insight for free, while paying subscribers got the same nonexclusive crap they could have read anywhere else the night before, is an insult to the few people who even bother to subscribe to the LA Times anymore.

I'm assuming Hernandez, who filed great copy about the Saturday game (complete with quotes from Sherrill, Torre, and Kemp), was actually at Sun Life Stadium in Miami for the game. Then why didn't the LA Times use it for the print edition?

I'm one of those few people, diminishing in number, who appreciate the morning ritual of walking down the driveway in the morning to pick up the newspaper and then read the key articles over coffee in one's bathrobe. Yes, I know what happened in the game; I watched most of it. And then I saw the highlights on ESPN SportsCenter. And then I read a couple of online articles using my iPad before going to bed.

So is it too much to ask to pay for a reporter to cover the Dodgers on away games, and then print 30 column inches of copy when it comes in?

Give me a reason to keep subscribing, LA Times, rather than continuing to find ways to question my purchase.

23 comments:

Jon Weisman said...

It's not that Dylan didn't write a story - it's all about print deadline issues which have been complicated by their recent deals to share their presses. Dylan's story appeared online and in later editions.

Mr. Customer said...

I've been out on the times for a while now, for similar reasons. When I tried to look at it objectively, I couldn't really say that it's a good newspaper.

Steve Sax said...

@Jon, I believe I did note that Dylan wrote a story. I'm not hating on Hernandez at all.

But print deadline issues? Come on, the Dodger game was over by 8pm PT. The Angels game was over by 8.30pm PT and Ben Bolch's article made the print deadline.

Couldn't they have put Dylan's work in that flimsy, catch-all, "LatExtra" section?

Eric Stephen said...

I thought for sure this was going to be about Steve Dilbeck's "Dodger Blog."

I wonder if it had to do with a few factual errors by Hernandez (he had Ethier's single as a home run, per his Twitter account), but then again that's what editors are for.

I agree with you, Sax. I wonder what they will do when they start playing night games on the West Coast. Might we see "San Francisco at Los Angeles, (N)"?

Which reminds me...

One of my favorite Tweets of the spring came in the first Freeway Series game in Anaheim. After the game had ended, the @latimesbaseball Twitter feed sent out this masterpiece:

"Heading into seventh, Dodgers hold 3-2 lead http://lat.ms/ctItyD #MLB"

Dusty Baker said...

There is virtually no excuse - in this day of instantaneous transmission of data - for geographic distance to keep a story filed from the field not to make it into the main edition. (And I'm putting that on the Times, not Hernandez).

I'm with Sax in that even though I've watched the game, read about it on this and other fine online establishments, watched more about it on late-night sports recap shows (who seemed to find the time to put a story together), read the Tweets, etc., I still want to read about the game the next morning in the paper that I pay full price for. Unfortunately, the Times has placed all its emphasis on writers more intent on stirring the pot (e.g., being anti-Dodger franchise) than in adding some local, expert perspective to the re-cap articles. Thus driving away the few remaining people who read that poor excuse for a sports section on any regular basis.

Neeebs said...

There were also a series of misprints in the article the other day. For example, the article talked about Ethier's pitch hit two-run homerun. Did I miss something? Ethier didn't hit a HR.

Mr. Customer said...

@Dusty

I share your feelings about the type of coverage, as well. In my occasionally humble option, that tendency has been evident on more than the sports page, too.

Hanging your hat on opinion writers/columnists as opposed to reporters might get people talking about your paper, but it ain't news.

Dusty Baker said...

@Mr.C-

Exactly; it's not just a sports thing. In fact, it's far more of a "news" phenomenon largely driven by TV ratings of successful (mostly political) shows that count on the shrillest and most extreme voices to drive viewership.

Is TJ Simers = Glenn Beck in that respect? Some would say...

Steve Sax said...

@Dusty, Mr.C: Totally agree with you. It seems that the only Dodgers feature writing we get (short of the "Dodgers FYI" pieces full of snippets) is an inflammatory article from Plaschke or a non-interview self-referencing Joel-Stein-like piece from TJ Simers.

This town has only four real profesional sports teams, the Dodgers, Lakers, Kings, and Galaxy. Six, if you count the Clippers and Angels.

The LATimes should be able to afford to send a beat reporter to one of only four of the Dodgers' east-coast road trips. And equip said beat reporter with an internet-accessible device so he/she can submit his/her article in time to make the print edition.

Steve Sax said...

@Eric Stephen 9:06a: Are you not cool with Steve Dilbeck? I think he's doing a good job--with big shoes to fill as Jon Weisman's successor--and I appreciate that he's been prolific as well. Do you agree?

Jon Weisman said...

I know you know Dylan wrote a story - I just think you're missing the point. It's not an editorial choice. This was sealed months ago when the Times gave the WSJ access to its printing press. Kevin Roderick wrote about this a bunch at L.A. Observed. This has been going on with Laker, Clipper and Kings games for weeks now.

As far as I know they aren't using LATExtra for Sports - nor are they really using it for its intended purpose, since you see a lot of daytime stories in it. It's very odd.

Jon Weisman said...

I'd say Dilbeck's point of view has more in common with Plaschke's than mine - not that he's not entitled.

Eric Stephen said...

I do appreciate that Dilbeck has been quite prolific in his posts, but I have not been a fan of many of his opinions.

Dusty Baker said...

So we're left with AP stories from some stringer who didn't even attend the game; designated pot-stirrers like Plaschke and Simers who inflame, not inform; an ever-shrinking sports section whose content is often dictated by shared press time with another publication most LA Times readers don't subscribe to so don't benefit from; content that is written and posted on the internet on, say, a Wednesday, then passed off as news in the sports section on Saturday; opinion over news; and all this in the age of the internet and social media where people have far greater - and better - and cheaper - choices on where to get their Dodgers news.

*scratches head*

So what's in it for us subscribers again?...

Eric Stephen said...

Not that I am disagreeing with you Sax, but there is almost always an AP reporter at the game. I'm fairly certain the AP report came from someone in the press box in Miami.

Alex said...

Can I have your ipad?

Steve Sax said...

@Jon, thanks for the LA Observed lead. Indeed, it seems that the Dodgers are considered in the same tier of importance as the Clippers, from the LATimes perspective.

Thank God we got that Angels article in the print edition on time, however. I mean, there's Tradition, and all that.

Steve Sax said...

I'm actually quite glad to have have posted this one. I've learned a lot, and I appreciate the input from Jon and Eric among others. And it's nice to see that a lot of the SoSG readers are also questioning the LA Times' commitment to the city's only MLB team.

I think in all of this, I feel for Dylan Hernandez the most. Give the guy the print space he deserves, for pete's sake.

Josh S. said...

@Neeebs: Dylan Hernandez admitted on Twitter that he goofed about Ethier's hit.

Dusty Baker said...

Sax wrote:

"I think in all of this, I feel for Dylan Hernandez the most."

Totally. Fully support him. It's his overseers I am highly suspect about.

In all this, it's important for bloggers, especially the ones taking part in this discussion, to keep delivering such great alternatives to traditional LA Times baseball coverage a) because it's now the best place(s) to get such coverage and b) it puts pressure on LA Times to compete better or to simply get out. I don't want to see it get out, but I also can't stomach the current environment enough to continue to pay for such a poor product.

In short: bloggers, keep kicking they asses!

rbnlaw said...

Welcome to the Hell I call, The O.C. Register." They've had some guy named, "Register Wire Services" on the Dodger beat for a couple of years now.

Steve Sax said...

To continue beating this dead horse...

I also liked how the LA Times changed the bylines about six months ago so that they now say "STEVE SAX, Reporting from {non-Los Angeles place)". No mention of title whatsoever at the top...

...because when you get to the bottom of the article, it will say "Steve Sax is a staff writer for the Gilroy High School Garlic Clove". Why have LA Times staff writers, when you can swipe content from everywhere else?

Neeebs said...

@Josh S

Should I be joining twitter now?