To local news hounds, the Los Angeles Times is an unstoppable juggernaut of content, polished, A-list reporters and breadth still unmatched by all but a few media organizations across the land. And, almost unquestionably, it's an organization that still doesn't “get it” when it comes to the web.
All you have to do is look at its site, where linking out to other sources is often taboo, and stories are almost always written as if they were discovered in a vacuum and delivered from Moses on the mountaintop. Competition be damned (which is way old-think). And forget about pointing out the obvious, having a personality, or even giving a little attitude (staples of contemporary bloggery). So we're sure all the social-media savvy boys and girls were spitting their lattes all over their iPhones when they heard this news:
Tribune Co., the Times' parent that is still in bankruptcy and owes a lot of people money (by the way), is starting a “consulting business” to tap into its web-smart brain trust and “sell its social media and Internet advertising know-how to small and mid-sized businesses,” according to Crain's business news.
Sometimes the Times' website feels as if it were carved out of digital stone. And, of course, forget acknowledging that any other website in the universe might possibly have gotten to a story before the “paper.”
The Times fails to realize that the web is a stream, a conversation, a journey; it's not a one-way street in the way newspapers were. You strike a blow, and readers hit you back, changing your stance, updating your facts, opening your eyes to new angles. The megaphone model doesn't work, but it's where the Times is spinning its wheels. (Sometimes, if you listen as you read the Times, you can almost hear the voice of Charlie Brown's parents narrating).
And don't forget, the Times and its parent spawned the short-lived youth-culture site and tabloid Metromix. The site wasn't half bad, but some genius in the corporate offices thought that reprinting web material in a newspaper would sell ads and support the site. Brilliant. Because the portable web isn't reached through smart phones but rather though pulp-based, turn-page devices known as newspapers. (We tried double clicking on the text with our fingertip; it didn't work, and we ended up ink-stained).
The Tribune owned KTLA News site, similarly, seems limited by a stiff, 1990s-like platform that allows only the most flat of text stories to go live (and linking out there is rare as well). KTLA has the best text news of any of the local television sites, in our opinion, but it's Times-ish in its lack of link outs. [Noted: KTLA links out much more than it did just a year ago, and much more so than the Times]. (Caveat: This reporter has worked both at the Times and KTLA).
Of all the old, gray news organizations, the New York Times has appeared to embrace the new way of doing things the most. There you'll see more link outs, with the use of online sources almost as footnotes, which could be the journalistic wave of the future.
Successful sites owned by Gawker Media and Gothamist LLC, parent of LAist locally, have been pointing the way forward for quite some time: Linking out provides the social strength of the web, gives proper nods to original sources, and leads to folks linking to you.
Just visit their sites: You don't have to hire the gifted web gurus at Tribune Co. to figure it out.