LATimes washington bureau no more

02Nov08

I’ve been thinking about this leaked memo posted on Romenesko, where an anonymous staffer says that basically the LA Times will no longer have its own Washington bureau. Instead, they will be part of a combined Tribune Co. bureau, and only have two staffers specifically writing for the LA audience.

It’s just the latest step in the slow and painful decline of that newspaper. The LA Times once was considered among the nation’s best dailies, but has dropped to second-tier status — even though it’s one of the few U.S. newspapers to retain foreign bureaus. 

Does the LA Times need its own Washington staff, or will it suffer by only having coverage from the combined Tribune bureau? Does the LA Times need its own reporter covering the White House, State, Defense, etc. who would bring an “LA perspective” to those beats? I wonder how many of their reporters had even worked or lived in LA. More than anything, not having a real Washington bureau basically cements the LAT’s decline.

It also means there will be less voices in the capital acting as a watchdog. But when press morals and business values collide, it’s the money that wins. Alas, this is the news business, as all us high-minded journalists have been repeatedly reminded.

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