Thank you for taking the time to reply.
As I mentioned in an earlier letter I mailed to you, I would like to know why you haven't covered the Bush administration's plan to privatize and sell off, essentially steal, Iraq's oil, and the subsequent revision of that policy.
You guys did a great series recently on corruption in reconstruction contracting, which wastes a lot of tax payer dollars, but this privatization scheme probably contributed directly to the insurgency and was why the Bush administration made no plans to pull out and in fact is constructing over a dozen major military installations there.
This is the very heart of the story in Iraq, and Americans need to hear to decide knowledgeably whether to support what our government is doing in our name.
To the degree that the media fell for and printed uncritically the administration's lies about why they went to war in Iraq, you have an obligation to print the real story.
On Apr 19, 2005, at 4:08 PM, Carroll, John - LA Times wrote:
Thanks for the thoughts. I attended the Murdoch talk in Washington and found it interesting. As for our "info-tainment" strategy, I'm not sure what you're talking about. The front of our paper is packed with serious news from all over the world. Calendar does cover entertainment, but in a sophisticated way -- could you imagine a paper based in Los Angeles not doing so? Regarding our fear of scaring away advertisers: We just lost GM because of a Dan Neil column, which we have no intention of correcting or retracting. And no, we don't care about Rush Limbaugh. I agree with your general sentiments about what a newspaper should do, but I believe the L.A. Times is doing them as well as any paper in the country. Yours truly, John Carroll
[Carroll, John - LA Times]
From: Professor Smartass
Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2005 10:19 AM
Subject: Rupert Murdoch on why newspapers are dying (not why you think)
Rupert Murdoch says 18-34 year olds don't find the news media trustworthy OR entertaining, which means you are not only failing at your reason for existence, providing news, but also at your misguided info-tainment strategy.
Two of the successful British internet news sources he mentions, the BBC and the Guardian, differ markedly from their American counterparts in reporting the news regardless of whose ox is gored in the case of the BBC, and printing opinion pieces that are factual, written by the real players (not think tank PR hacks) and question the essence of the policy of those in power.
Real news and real, reasoned dissent.
I would buy a newspaper for that, and trust that I would hear about what's on Bush's iPod and what kind of bikini wax Arnold Schwarzenegger uses on his nipples on Entertainment Tonight.
I know you guys are in a bind; you don't want to scare away advertisers or get that flood of angry letters from toothless, hillbilly Rush Limbaugh fans and that nasty call from Karl Rove, but timidity makes you bland and bland doesn't sell.
You should make it your goal to get those angry letters and consider them a gauge of your success as long as your story is accurate and serves no interests other than giving the public NEWS they actually need to know for democracy to function.
He said consumers wanted "control over the media, instead of being controlled by it", pointing to the proliferation of website diaries known as "blogs" and message boards.
And newspaper editors simply cannot afford to ignore this, he said, or to look down on readers or ignore what they actually wanted.
He said consumers between the ages of 18-34 were increasingly using the web as their medium of choice for news and neglected more traditional media.
Young people's attitudes towards newspapers were "especially alarming", he said. "Only 9% describe us as trustworthy, a scant 8% find us useful, and only 4% of respondents think we're entertaining."
He described the shift in attitudes as "a revolution in the way young people are accessing news".
"They don't want to rely on the morning paper for their up-to-date information. They don't want to rely on a God-like figure from above to tell them what's important. And to carry the religion analogy a bit further, they certainly don't want news presented as gospel."
Mr Murdoch, who recently held a summit with his newspaper bosses about forging a new internet strategy, said the industry had "sat by and watched" as circulations had fallen over the past 40 years, complacent because of its historic monopoly on the news business.
A rise in population had masked a relative decline in the TV age, he said, while in the 1990s profitability had held up in spite of circulations falling, further lulling the industry into a false sense of security.
"But those days are gone," he warned. "The trends are against us...so unless we awaken to these changes, which are quite different to those of five or six years ago, we will, as an industry, be relegated to the status of also-rans."
Now, however, the Sun is, along with the Guardian and the BBC, one of the top 10 news websites in the UK but the online operations of the Times and Telegraph, which have not received the same investment, are not ranked in the top tier.
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