An Open Letter to the Los Angeles Times

A brief open letter to the Los Angeles Times. After a generation an institution in California returns to local ownership. A major newspaper appears to be saved and its future is once again bright. This is a letter from a digital subscriber who grew up in California reading the Los Angeles Times. 

“Newspapers cannot be defined by the second word—paper. They’ve got to be defined by the first word—news.”

Arthur Salzberg Jr.

“Were it left to me to decide if we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Thomas Jefferson

The front page for June 17, 2018 Los Angeles Times 

Dear Los Angeles Times-

Tomorrow is a big day for you. Its a day that many people in Southern California and California have looked forward to. I am a Californian having grown up there. And even though I live in the Washington, D.C. area I still miss my native state. Tomorrow for the first time in almost a generation the control of the Los Angeles Times returns to local ownership. With the sale and purchase of this 137 year old historic newspaper there is a future ahead. The Times had an unknown future and has gone through a lot of turmoil. You had staff reductions and loss. You were on the brink of losing your Washington bureau when Patrick Soon-Shiong stepped in and saved it. Some newspapers have a bleak future especially as print media is dying. One of the most painful reads I consumed was the front page editorial by the Denver Post pleading for it to be sold so the paper would not be destroyed.  

Let me briefly explain what the LA Times means to me. When I was living in Fresno, California and a high school student in the 1990’s I subscribed to the Times. Picking up the newspaper was a joy. I read about events such as the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, the Persian Gulf War, 1992 riots, and more when I was in high school. Reading the Times was neat. It was the  newspaper to read in California. It was known for its coverage of California politics and government. Plus it was known for sports and entertainment news.  I am a student of history and the history of the city of Los Angeles and Southern California is tied to the Los Angeles Times and the Chandler family. Los Angeles would not be the same without the Chandlers. When ownership transferred to Chicago about 20 years ago it was like Los Angeles lost its soul. The newspaper that had nurtured and grown up with the city almost felt decapitated. 

As I grew up and moved on I realized what a gem I had, especially as I saw media in other states. While I moved around the United States I longed for the Times. But I also noticed how you went down-hill. Budget cuts, corporate decisions from Chicago from Tronc all hurt the Times. Morale plummeted and the situation declined with the passage of time. I read and heard about that also. For someone who read you , it was a painful time to watch this historic newspaper. It was when I heard of the sale to Patrick Soon-Shiong that I became hopeful. For the first time in years I decided to purchase a digital subscription to the Los Angeles Times. And today I am reading you daily once again. 

Here is what I am going to ask of you. Became the news leader of the western United States. As a newspaper you were known for Pulitzer-prize winning reporting. Invest in your newsroom, build up coverage of politics and government in Washington, D.C. Cover the growth of China on the world stage and the changes undergoing in Asia. Develop a cyber beat that reports on changes in the internet and technology. Report on the developments of political shifts in Europe. Build up the paper to the jewel it was in the 1990’s which is what I remember. Your challenges are unique. You have to do this while print media is dying. You need to adjust and grow digital subscriptions to people like me. To the Los Angeles Times you are needed now more than ever. In an era of fake news, and propaganda on the internet you need to be a beacon and boldly report the news. As a citizen I firmly believe that the free press is the most important check on government. You are needed now more than ever. This letter is in response to the letter that Patrick Soon-Shiong wrote to Times readers like myself. 

Please rise to the occasion. I look forward to reading and subscribing to you. Tomorrow is a new day. 

Very Respectfully, 

David Bonner