Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Press: New Face, Same Identity?

Drama, drama, everywhere.

At least that's what seems to be happening in major newsrooms across the country. Last week, Los Angeles Times publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson put his own job on the line when he refused to make layoffs at the paper in the face of a pact made by three top editors to resign in solidarity. In Chicago, the Sun-Times News Group "restructured" its leadership. A few new faces have shown up under the masthead title "owner." And let's not even go into all the newspaper staff firings across the nation as a result of declining profits.

Will the press be the same? And will it be better?

While it's too early to tell what will come of this press renovation at large, the shakeups leave the press reputation - a valuable thing, of course - less than stable. For example, the LA Times is an American story of a small paper's rise to preeminence and great journalism. Will it still offer quality in the next chapter of its life, or has Mr. Johnson delayed the future?

Who knows best? The top executive or the parent company? Or the staff?

Just as I've been intently watching the rise of Hillary Clinton in politics, I think it's worth watching the press - and that's exactly what this blog is for. Will big dogs like the NYT, LAT and WashPo be on top in 10 years? Or will great startup outlets for reporters keep the honored lifeblood of journalism pumping?

Stay tuned. It's about to get exciting.

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