All the News, Fit To Print

In a recent piece in NeimanLab, “California Dreaming: How the LA Times is introducing new beats and platforms to grow its audience,” Joseph Lichterman includes a conversation with S. Mitra Kalita, the Times managing editor for editorial strategy, to learn more about her efforts to expand the types of stories the paper covers. “When the Los Angeles Times announced in June that it was hiring a reporter, Dexter Thomas, to cover Black Twitter,” explains Lichterman, “the Internet had many opinions and was not shy about expressing them.”

Kalita’s interest in developing and refining new styles of newspaper journalism is interesting for us as Phillip Fradkin, a former reporter at the Times, weaved into his story of California how the Chandlers controlled the news:

Like the Mexicans, the blacks were an invisible minority in the mid-1960s. Raphael J. Sonenshein, a professor of political science at California State University, Fullerton, wrote, ‘Blacks were still invisible still, especially in such citywide media outlets as the Los Angeles Times.’ He added, ‘It took massive civil violence to unmistakably express Black concerns and command the full attention of the city. Another researcher counted only one hundred inches of news space devoted to the black community since 1943, and those stories were either short, concerned only crime, or originated from city hall handouts about municipal projects. (392)

The new journalism model will include new beats and new platforms for storytelling, from SoundCloud to Snapchat, expanding the Times’ audience beyond the readership Chandler envisioned for his paper. “I see an opportunity in framing broader stories through the California lens and achieving audience in our state and throughout the world,” Kalita explains in her conversation.

What explains California? In this case, the news. However what we are seeing is that who controls the news, and to whom the target audience is envisioned to be, will in large measure determine what is included (and what is not).