L.A. Times’s Talent Raid on LAist Blog
The L.A. Times, which to date has been something of a middling adopter to digital journalism, has hired a blog editor, Tony Pierce, to spur and grow the Times’ current stable of 25 bloggers. (A tip o’ the fez to our friends at The Bivings Report, whose item on this brought it to my attention.)
While other newspapers have brought in folks to corral in-house bloggers, it’s been at least partly to keep the writers in line, make sure they abide by Newsroom Standards–to provide adult supervision and logistics management, essentially.
What appears to be significant here: the talent coming in is the editor of LAist, and he’s the third LAister to be hired away by the Times: In July sports and entertainment bloggers were called up to The Show.
It’s tempting to think that the Times is going native with these hires, making a full commitment to embracing the blogosphere.
LAist, one of a cluster of 14 metro blogs around North America, is fairly tame and often lame: Local event listings, notes about goings on, funny pictures of animals, photo of the day, some gentle pokes at cops and mayors, that sort of thing. It hardly has the brainy, anti-establishment edge of even a Slate or Salon. It does little difficult reporting, as a journalist might recognize it.
What is interesting is that Pierce is coming in to lead the Times’ effort, not just blog. It will be interesting to see how a guy who has never borne a stain of ink will handle the reporters who write most of the Times’ blogs.
As Pierce leaves, he submitted to an “exit” interview with two of his LAist colleagues:
Tony: I believe that newspaper blogs will dominate the Technorati Top 100 in the next 5 years. Simply due to the fact that they have the best writers, they are the ones actually gathering news, and they have the best photographers, and the tightest infrastructure. They’re doomed for success as long as they stop fighting the inevitable. So I am looking forward to working with real pros.
Also, all links end up going back to an MSM source – not to a blog, therefore what that MSM source does with that movement is critical. Right now the buck stops there. What would happen if it points to one of its internal blogs that can provide more info? If they did that properly it would be the death of fools like Drudge who have fewer quality links, less credibility, and a clearly obvious and clownish agenda. “Hillary is a lesbo” has been his drumbeat all week. That’s something even he doesn’t believe, and it’s proof that he’s not serious about politics.
Huffington Post showed up out of nowhere when no one asked for another political blog and is now getting more hits than Drudge mostly because they are serious about politics and they’re echoing what regular Americans actually believe. Therefore if the MSM simply organized themselves a tad better, they could use that credibility and the natural flow of blog traffic to fuel their online ventures.
Chief blogger Pierce is already talking out of both sides of his mouth–oozing enthusiasm about the “best writers” and “real pros” in the newsroom, about de-throning the thuggish blockhead Matt Drudge and embracing the “serious about politics” mission of the HuffPo.
So is the talent raid on LAist a brave move by the Times to power itself the blogosphere? Or a safe move to give it some digital cred while it fights to maintain the status quo?
Times will tell.