A fine site

Month: July, 2012

Observing LA Observed


LA Observed is a Los Angeles-centric blog-style website.  It has fresh daily content that varies from a nice aggregation of the day’s local news to insightful commentary on mostly serious issues facing the city.  The site describes itself as “a website devoted to independent reporting, informed commentary and selective linkage on Los Angeles news, media, politics, business, books and other topics.”

LAO, as it calls itself, has some pretty impressive talent, including Bill Boyarsky, the long-time political writer for the Los Angeles Times, and is edited by Mark Lacter, who doubles as the on-air business analyst for one of the local NPR stations in town, KPCC.  In fact, on Tuesday morning, I heard Steve Julian of KPCC do a really good interview with Mr. Lacter on the morning show about the current status of California economics – only to later find his post on LAO containing more information, an economic graph and the transcript of his KPCC interview.

LA Observed styles itself as the non-snarky alternative to more topical, human interest-style blogs.   My favorite self-disclosure about its editorial style came in response to the self-posed question:  Does LAO publish gossip?  The answer:

 “We hear a lot of media and politics gossip — and would be happy to hear more — but in the end relatively little gets into our posts. For us to treat pure gossip as blogworthy, we need to believe it might be true and have a good reason to publish it. . . .”



Compare Front Pages from Gawker and The New York Times

  • Tone:  The NYT is the newspaper of record and its headlines (on Wednesday, July 18, 2012) reflect the seriousness with which it takes the news: “6 Israelis Killed in Bulgaria;” “In Its First Penalty, Consumer Agency Fines Bank.” By contrast, the tone of the headlines on Gawker is much more lighthearted: “The Best Photographer on Instagram Got Banned for Posting Boobs” and “You Know Who the Highest-Paid TV Actress Was Last Year? Sofia Vergara.” The tone on Gawker seems much more suited for a younger generation that is more attracted to general human interest stories than hard-hitting national or international news.
  • Subject matter:  Gawker made no attempt to cover any breaking news of the day, whereas the NYT was completely topical and thorough. Both sites covered politics and economics, but Gawker’s coverage was completely derivative of other news sites. For example, Gawker had an article under the category of “Unemployment” titled, “Men Are Getting All the Jobs Again, Thank God.” The heart of the article was a quote attributed to the Los Angeles Times providing the statistic that men have landed 80% of the 2.6 million net jobs created since the end of the recession in June 2009 – sprinkled with some commentary. By contrast, the NYT had front page articles on the Federal Reserve and the IMF with first-hand reporting and quotes from key players. The same was true of their respective political coverage. The NYT had a story on Romney being his own barrier to income tax disclosure with quotations from a senior campaign aide on the record. By contrast, Gawker, under its “Election 2012” coverage had a story about John McCain’s comment that Sarah Palin was a better candidate than Romney, which quotes a McCain interview with Politico and adds commentary.
  • How presented:  NYT articles are very lengthy and well-researched and extensively reported. Gawker articles are short, punchy and to the point. Gawker’s placement of articles emphasizes pop culture and human interest, whereas the NYT emphasizes the weighty news of the day, including foreign coverage. The one identical topic covered by both sites was a review of the new Batman movie. This review was Gawker’s top story; for the NYT it was toward the bottom of the middle section, but did have an accompanying photo.