LA Times: terrible decisions

In an internal memo to the LA Times staff leaked to the LA Observer, the LA Times publisher David Hiller announced that the paper will start to sell ads on the front page of the paper. The LA Times is experiencing the worst quarter of its paper’s history and cash flow is down 27 percent and second quarter revenue was down 10 percent.

From Media Buyer Planner:

In a memo to staff (viaL.A. Observed), Hiller announced the results of the second quarter and discussed the inch-and-a-half strip front page ads, pointing out that the ads would bring in several million dollars in revenue and that if the paper communicates well, “reader reaction should be OK.”

Hiller also said that the paper would make sure the revenue from the front page ads is “additive, and not just switched from other pages.” Last year, the Los Angeles Times began running ads on section fronts.

Is this the death nail for print media? Is Hiller trying to get blood from a stone? It seems to me that this is a desperate move by the LA Times, my hometown paper, to earn back some revenue. What the LA Times should do is focus on quality writing (stop laying off quality reporters), experiment in video other than taking content from its sister company KTLA and start innovating internet journalism. Selling ads on the front page of the LA Times will only cheapen the paper and make it look like The Daily News or the New York Post.

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