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Opinion: L.A. Times’ transparency on internal turmoil draws praise, skepticism from readers

The Los Angeles Times building in El Segundo.
(Los Angeles Times)

As the largest news organization on the West Coast , the Los Angeles Times must sometimes report on itself the same way it covers any other powerful institution. When it does, as with the recent 4,700-word deep dive by journalists Daniel Hernandez and Meg James into the paper’s “summer of turmoil,” readers tend to react strongly.

The letters we received in response to the piece expressed a wide range of opinions on the quality of the L.A. Times’ journalism and the ongoing reckonings on race and management behavior inside the organization. A few themes emerge: appreciation for local ownership and the organization’s commitment to transparency, but also concerns that The Times’ reporting is politically biased.

Here is some of what our letter writers said.

Noel Park of Rancho Palos Verdes expresses gratitude to The Times’ owners:

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As a subscriber to The Times, I am very grateful to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michele Chan, for saving the paper. I am therefore saddened to see they have encountered this management can of worms. No good deed goes unpunished.

I trust that, given the huge business community in Southern California, they will find the advice and guidance to help them to straighten this mess out. I don’t pay much attention to the Sports and Food sections, so the conflicts in those areas do not really bother me. The integrity of the news sections, however, must be protected at all costs.

Many thanks to Soon-Shiong and Chan for their magnificent gesture of rescuing The Times. I wish them every success.

Jordan Sollitto of San Marino lauds The Times’ self-critical reporting amid a difficult media environment:

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I have enormous respect for The Times’ willingness to undergo the painful introspection described in Meg James’ and Daniel Hernandez’s piece. It is true that the newspaper has a unique responsibility to keep its own ethical house in order, so this reporting is commendable.

The business model that once underpinned serious and responsible journalism has been upended, and the ease with which even the most diligent reporting is now dismissed as “fake news” further erodes the relationship with readers. That The Times should exhibit the integrity to address these internal flaws even as it wrestles with existential threats pays laudable homage to its proud heritage as one of the world’s finest newspapers.

I will be rooting for you all as you work through these complex issues. Keep up the fine work.

Jo-Anne Collins of Fountain Valley is one of a handful of readers to express dissatisfaction with The Times:

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From a reader’s perspective, I would like to say I am becoming less and less enthralled with the L.A. Times as time passes.

Your Food section has become much too sophisticated for my palate. You have chosen not to publish daily TV guides (with movies) as you used to, and every time I pick up the L.A. Times I am bombarded with the lies of the two main political parties.

In my opinion, your job is to report the news and not try to convince me how I should vote.

Patricia LoVerme of South Pasadena was put off by the article:

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I was dismayed to read the airing of every last bit of dirty laundry at the Los Angeles Times. The most egregious problems could have been handled in a short and concise summary.

The Times’ reputation will be severely soiled by so much detail about things that didn’t need to be discussed so openly. Most organizations, including The Times, have their bad apples.

Reporting that corrections have been made would suffice to assure readers the institution is still sound.


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