Sunday, September 07, 2008

LA, The Los Angeles Times Magazine debuts, but not online

If you want to make this uni spaghetti, you'll have to (gasp) buy the Sunday L.A. Times.

Does it seem odd that not only is there no mention of the new advertising department-directed LA, Los Angeles Times Magazine on Latimes.com, but no mention of a website inside the magazine either? I guess when the only raison d'etre is to showcase diamonds from Harry Winston and such, there's not much point in being on the web. But it is disorienting to go to the old LA Times magazine site and find a two month-old architecture story and nothing else, not even a refer. There doesn't even appear to be a new web address associated with the magazine, not that it's easy searching for something called "LA."
As far as food content, there's a decent article on fresh, local uni (sea urchin) with an intriguing recipe for uni spaghetti, a rather trite story on where to find gourmet ingredients (Surfas! Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills! Who knew?) and a tiresome story by vegangelist Kathy Freston about taking Wendi Murdoch to a vegan lunch at Lucques and forcing her to contemplate the iron content of the beet salad she's trying to enjoy. (Fun fact: before she was filthy rich, Murdoch's poor Chinese family enjoyed pig head fat on special occasions. She sounds like more fun than Freston.)
Not that anyone asked, but also:
The design is boring and many of the photos, like in the shoes feature, are way too small.
Too many first-person, not incredibly well-written stories, including:
The feature about the TV writer who had a stroke -- really depressing.
The story by the former foster child-turned-lawyer -- seems like really old news.
and, hello? Q & A with Michelle Obama? Seems like you might want to mention that somewhere, like on the cover? Or in the frigging TABLE OF CONTENTS? No? Guess not. Maybe Harry Winston or someone is a Republican and wouldn't like that. Although the stories are by no means advertorial, make no mistake, this magazine is still all about the advertisers.

16 comments:

carter said...

Yet another waste of newsprint - biz as usual at the Times. The Sunday edition is always the worst paper of the week.

ipsedixit said...

Editorial + Marketing = Catalogue

I am really saddened to see the slow demise of the LAT.

At least when the Herald went it away, it was overnight (or nearly so).

With the LAT, it's like watching a loved one die of cancer in a hospice.

xie said...

seems like most LA local publications are badly designed, which is amazing because i know most designers would much rather be doing print work than stupid entertainment websites.

Anonymous said...

Pat,

You're statement that the new magazine is "advertising-department directed" is completely untrue. The magazine is an editorial product with only a distinct editorial staff from the paper. Fact check yourself please and don't buy into the disgruntled propaganda about this being "advertorial."

Pat said...

Anonymous, I said very clearly it was not advertorial. And I certainly never said it wasn't "an editorial product." Please let me know which part of this quote from the New York Times is incorrect and I will be glad to correct it:
"The Los Angeles Times has made plans to transfer control of its monthly magazine from its newsroom to its business operations...The arrangement would flout the tradition at most newspapers, which keep business operations, like advertising and circulation, completely separate from the editorial department, which controls decisions about the contents of news and feature pages."

Anonymous said...

"Advertising-directed," as you well know, is different then transferring control out of the newsroom (to another editorial department). Perhaps the NYT, in their propensity for schadenfreude, didn't realize that fact but was happy to imply otherwise.

HerbyN said...

oh brother... methinks that "anonymous" is nitpicking and protests too much. no matter who is in control of the 'editorial content'... can we just agree that the direction of the Times in general and in this case the LAT Magazine in particular is going downhill (and has been for some time)? the current policy with regard to the online presence of the sunday magazine is just another symptom of what has been a long and very sad decline of what was once a once grand old lion of the newspaper publishing world...

Anonymous said...

From novelist Denise Hamilton:
Notwithstanding the oddly compelling piece on grilled sea urchin, I found the food stories in the mag to be particularly lame and almost insulting. It was as if the contributors had just discovered places and things that have been well-known to Angelenos for years and were now intent on whipping us into a lather about them. And while I think Lucques is great, do we really need another story about this overexposed media darling? I’d have much preferred an insider’s guide to, say, eating vegan in Artesia’s Little India. And they could drag along some Bombay billiionaire’s wife who licked discarded candy wrappers as a child just to give us that celebrity frisson. Maybe they should read Pat’s blog for some ideas about how cool LA cuisine can be. Or Jon Gold’s columns in LA Weekly. But I’m an optimist. It can only get better, right?
See more of Denise's opinion at
http://www.laobserved.com/intell/2008/09/new_la_times_sunday_magazine_m.php

Donna B. said...

Pat, you forgot to mention the intro, where the editor says the hot air hitting her must have come from angel wings!

The only part I read was the story of the woman in the wheelchair. No date was included, so that was a bummer...

And I totally agree about the shoe pix. I wanted to cut them out to used as reference, but they were so small, there was no joy at all.

Lindsay R.T. said...

i work for la times and am confused as to why the website hasn't been updated either...

however, the ads are what fuels the paper and i thought they chose great advertisers.

i agre with the criticism about the michelle obama interview not being on the cover... and i loved the shoe section... i didn't think the pics were too small but will def. pass that along.

i really enjoyed the "manners matter" article as well because sometimes people need to be reminded of standard etiquette.

Lindsay R.T. said...

ah, just found out the website will be up in two months. latimes.com is run by different employees then all of our actual print product and we had to find an effective way to convert the magazine to an online forum...

Anonymous said...

This magazine is clearly not a news-driven publication. That said, it's by far the highest quality magazine the LA Times has ever produced. The fashion photography alone is astounding and the design is clean and sophisticated. For a first issue it's actually pretty impressive. The fact that it's coming from the LAT – or LA, for that matter– is a little surprising. It has surpassed any expectations I've ever had for the publishing business in this city.

Anonymous said...

I think it's sad that former LA Times lifer--whose objectivity is questionable--Kevin Roderick has to post only missives about the times's new effort. He continues to imply it's advertorial--along with Pat--prints only negative letters and harbors only innuendo that it's some dark advertising conspiracy. Any new magazine goes through growing pains. Denise's comments are valid in my view. But let's not indict the whole effort before it's had time to evolve. The din of a handful of former Times's employees blogging negatively is questionable. I wonder if Kevin would dare to post a positive letter? Or even better, dare to enable commenting on his posts.

montdor said...

i thought it looked great.

Triple Ginger said...

Wonderful commentary on the first issue of this disaster. The second (out today, October 5, 2008) is no better. OK, it has a Table of Contents but the contents themselves are so shallow that I didn't bother. What really enraged this non vegan was the terrible piece by Kathy Freston titled VEGANS MAKE THE CUT wherein she goes to Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse Cut and has a (gasp) elegant vegan meal prepared just for her and her date (and I assume the retinue of Times photographers who accompanied her and did the color food shots). Somehow she manages to make this little LA Times Magazine review sound like a choir girl visiting a bordello. Didn't she realize that she demeaned those vegans who believe ethics rather than aesthetics is the issue?

And there is still no website for the magazine.

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