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LA Times Investigates How Not To Bore Readers Senseless
Yes, via Romenesko, it seems they actually put a team of investigative reporters on this!

The Los Angeles Times has assigned three investigative reporters and half a dozen editors to find ideas for re-engaging readers, reports Katharine Q. Seelye. A report is expected in about two months. "We shouldn’t be waiting for corporate headquarters or a think tank or a consultant to come up with ideas to secure our future," says Marc Duvoisin, an assistant managing editor who will direct the investigation. Tribune's spokesman wouldn't comment on the project.

Perhaps I should send Marc Duvoisin my column samples. I mean, if they aren't pulling 'em in in droves with Al Martinez and Howard Leff.

Posted by aalkon at October 12, 2006 10:59 AM

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Do it. Sense, science and sex appeal in one handy advice columnist! Talk about change for the better!

Posted by: Melissa at October 12, 2006 9:35 AM

Well, I do tell the truth. I don't know if they want the truth (at least, not in the features section). They ran a column from Amy Dickinson about how simply wunnnnnderful it is to be a parent. Bullshit. In a lot of cases. The responsible, insightful thing to do would be to tell a person to talk to parents to see what parenting is really about -- the ins and outs of it -- and to see if they have regrets, and to then make an informed decision about the time, energy and money required. I'm going to Paris next week -- on a moment's notice. I have an extremely free life...because I don't have kids. I have friends who are kids, and that's enough.

On the bright side, surely because of Matt Welch, there's a fantastic, very entertaining piece by Heather Havrilesky on the Op Ed pages today about what it's like to be pregnant. Just hilarious.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 12, 2006 10:22 AM

You are absolutely right about that-- the parenting thing is a huge, irrevocable, life-altering decision, and talking honestly about it to people with kids is a must. Sane people whose opinions you trust! People need to understand what they'll be giving up and postponing, not just the joys which have been discussed ad nauseum. It would also benefit people to think how it will be to be raising a new little person with all of your own bad qualities and none of your self-control. 'Cause the hardest parts come about when your bundle of joy intentionally winds you up, and, well, we all know how sublimely irritating it is to be confronted with our own worst flaws...

Also, anyone considering parenthood should seriously go for an entire month only sleeping three hours a night.

Even then, they'll only have an inkling of what it's like-- absolutely nothing can compare with the burden of being responsible 24/7 for the life of a fragile human who cannot communicate his needs verbally. It's staggering. I have NO IDEA how single mothers do it, but I think they all deserve a fucking medal. I think it takes a minimum of three adults to comfortably care for a child.

All this said, I adore my son. Go figure! ;) But if someone tells me they don't want a child, the last thing I'm going to do is hit them with the "joys of parenthood" speech! Unlike most fucking newspaper columnists. I swear, when I was a new mom coping with my little one's seventh month of colic, I imagined there was a huge conspiracy not to tell prospective parents the truth and thus ensure the survival of the species!

Going to read that Op Ed piece now...

Posted by: Melissa at October 12, 2006 1:00 PM

(Hmm, think I could use the word "fucking" a few more times? ;))

I love that Op-Ed piece-- talk about telling the truth! "What To Expect When You're Expecting" was the bane of my sanity for about two weeks, until I finally just gave the thing away.

Posted by: Melissa at October 12, 2006 1:49 PM

The thing is, The Features Ladies would never run the piece Heather wrote...if they would, they'd already be running it...if that makes sense. I'm almost positive that's in the paper because Matt Welch, who's smart and cool and fearless, is now on the editorial page. He's also a friend (and fan, I believe, as am I) of Heather's. There's rarely any original thinking (certainly not on anything cultural) in the features section. I like Tim Rutten and Carina's reviews. Booth Moore has improved, but that doesn't mean she's actually good or anything. Imagine, in the city of Los Angeles, they coudn't find anybody better to write about fashion? I believe they promoted her to fashion writer from copy editor. And great that they promote people -- but even greater if they promote people that can do the job.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 12, 2006 2:50 PM

If I have to read one more "Getting Personal" column, I just might cancel. And it's not just Howard Leff, the women are just as bad. Today's horrible column gave the newsflash that there are women called "cougars" who go after younger men...where do they get these head-in-the-sand folks? Fortunately or unfortunately, the website is so awful that you can't find the Getting Personal columns anywhere on it anyway. At least they bury Chris Erskine, the world's most boring soccer dad, somewhere where I never see him. I like Steve Lopez usually though, except when he writes about racoons like yesterday.

Posted by: Pat at October 12, 2006 3:10 PM

I forgot about that piece, Pat (or perhaps I simply tried to forget it). That was so strange...as if the "cougar" thing is something new. Naturally, the chick who wrote it had not one interesting or insightful thing to say.

Erskine ranks just behind Al Martinez for unreadability. Steve Lopez is readable but not amazing or anything. And he probably should be with the rumors of the bucks they're paying him.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 12, 2006 3:53 PM

Count-your-blessings dept: At least Robin Abcarian is no longer making us vom into our morning wheaties as she drones on about her wretched bourgeois life....

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at October 12, 2006 5:09 PM

Well, it's nothing new...I remember my mom complaining about some columnist named "Miv Schaaf" when I was just a young'un.
Can you imagine the Times hiring an edgy sex columnist like the San Francisco Chronicle did recently?

Posted by: Pat at October 12, 2006 5:42 PM

> Count-your-blessings dept: At least
> Robin Abcarian is no longer making us
> vom into our morning wheaties as she
> drones on about her wretched bourgeois
> life....

> Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at
> October 12, 2006 05:09 PM

A comment that good bears repeating.

Posted by: Crid at October 12, 2006 5:54 PM

Edgy sex columnist? Ha. Dan Neil spoke at the features editors' conference recently and talked about how they censored him from saying "Do me!"

Not exactly step-by-step directions for bestiality, huh?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 12, 2006 7:21 PM

I had and have nothing to do with any of this, but I have created a blog post in LATville with various links & an ability to comment, which y'all can find here.

Posted by: Matt Welch at October 12, 2006 10:17 PM

Whassa matter, Amy? You don't like Al Martinez's columns about injuring his shin, and whether he's brushing his teeth and showering??

Posted by: Patterico at October 12, 2006 10:53 PM

Matt, I'd accuse you of hating baseball before I'd suspect you for being involved with such a thing. But, thanks for printing Heather -- assuming that was your doing. Always fabulous to read her.

And Patterico, sadly, no...I'm sure we have a mutual lack of interest for Al's shins and personal hygiene habits!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 12, 2006 11:38 PM

Interesting... Amy, have you ever thought of writing Op-Ed pieces? From reading your blog and your column, I know you've got interesting things to say, as well as fresh takes on a lot of issues. Just a thought.

Posted by: Melissa at October 13, 2006 7:03 AM

The op ed section of the LAT is the one section I could write for. But, I've actually been working very hard on a book, which is with my agent now, and I put so much energy into writing my column every week, I wish they'd run that. It's not like Carolyn Hax or Amy Dickinson are better. And what's with the ongoing snobbery against local writers?

PS I once put an ad for a man in the LA Times -- a display ad with my picture, before online personals were so popular -- and, while my then-editor, Bob Sipchen wanted it, the angry ladies prevented him from taking it (he said, because of they were still mad about my joke about my boobs in my stolen car piece they ran in the LAT Magazine), and my ad contained the descriptives about me, "Large hooters, IQ." Humorless ladies running the place over there!

Oh yeah, I ended up writing about my LAT ad...in an extremely popular 10-part series for the NY Daily News!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 13, 2006 7:51 AM

Awesome! That's hilarious. I'd love to read that series.

The ladies must have "small hooters, IQ." I've always thought a well-developed sense of humor was the best indicator of intelligence (and sexual aptitude), though it seems to exhibit little correlation with hooter size.

You may be amused to know that a local paper in my city carries your column on a page otherwise filled with ads for escorts and phone sex.

What's your book about, if you're allowed to talk about it?

Posted by: Melissa at October 13, 2006 10:20 AM

> it seems to exhibit little correlation
> with hooter size.

I'm a short/fat computer geek, fascinated with programming in all sorts of devices, from car-door unlockers to mainframes. But sometimes, nothing satisfies like hardware, y'know? Sure, Dostoyevsky was great and all. Yeah, Crime and Punishment.

But, like, whatever. "Aptitude" is where you find it. And it turns up in the darndest places.....

Posted by: crid at October 13, 2006 8:05 PM

But, Crid, regardless of your build, if you're a computer geek you're intelligent, which was my original point. Intelligent peoople make better lovers in my experience, and such people tend to have more sophisticated senses of humor. And read blogs like this one.

Posted by: Melissa at October 14, 2006 7:10 AM

Maybe the smart women have been hanging out with the tall guys, but the slow women have been as warm as any. People want what they want, y'know?

> read blogs like this one.

This is supposed to get us laid? Shit! Did everyone know about this but me?

Posted by: crid at October 14, 2006 3:57 PM

"This is supposed to get us laid? Shit! Did everyone know about this but me?"

Yes.

Posted by: Melissa at October 17, 2006 5:43 PM

Posted by: moysha at February 17, 2007 8:34 AM

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