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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Watch FRONTLINE: "What's Happening to the News"

Sad, prophetic, enervating and illuminating

I have lived in Los Angeles my entire life, with the exception of some periods where i lived in nocal (truly another state - just keep that water flowing!) and out of state.

I grew up with the LA Times; we always got that paper when our neighbors received local dogshit papers that focused on "local" coverage of murders, wife beatings, and high school football games.

It's not like my parents were particularly erudite or interested in providing their children with a more worldly view; it's just that they knew a good product when they saw it.

While I've made a living in publishing, I am not a journalist. A journalist is someone who, first and foremost, has a journalism degree; has received training in journalistic technique; and practices the art of journalism as a profession. I respect journalism greatly; so much so, that many of my friends in adulthood are LAT employees - now, sadly, most are ex-LAT employees, since the Tribune Company debacle.

I've watched the Times shrink, attempt redesigns, take investment banker-delivered editorial "medicine" and try to focus on "local" coverage versus national; and quite frankly, it's been awful. The LAT is rapidly approaching Mattel status here - where you end up knowing FAR more "ex" employees than current ones - and none of them have anything nice to say about their former employer.

So it comes as no surprise to see Lowell Bergman's piece on the LAT on tonite's Frontline ("What's Happening to the News") as every bit the sad, pathos-ridden death spiral that we have all suspected. Even with friends from the LAT, they never really say how bad it is; they just mutter or say things like "it's a shame" if you try to bring it up. Between being financially disemboweled by and henpecked to death by know-it-all investment bankers who, quite likely, have never done anything in their lives except investment banking, it's little wonder entities like the Los Angeles Times are suffering in the media delivery space.

The program is worth watching; PBS will push the content to this page in a day or so, so make sure you watch it if you can't catch it on television.

As Jon Carroll, former Baltimore Sun and LAT editor put it, if newspapers don't do the reporting, and if we decide as a culture that news isn't worth paying for - or from an i-banker's perspective, it's "too expensive" (as one Merrill Lynch exec put it - apparently she's confident Bloomberg is all we need as a nation and culture), then we lose one of the tenets of a representative democracy.

Citizen journalism and commentary have their place, but so does traditional journalism in a structured delivery environment. Without it, we are lost.

Great work by Lowell Bergman and his PBS team at Frontline.

- posted by Jim in LA

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