Associates Breakfast with Russ Stanton, Editor, Los Angeles Times

December 9, 2008

Santa Monica

Description

These are tough times for the newspaper industry - and that's especially true at The Los Angeles Times, as editor Russ Stanton acknowledged during a breakfast meeting with the Milken Institute Associates.

The Times has gone through a difficult year of staff cuts, capped by the bankruptcy filing of Tribune Company, the paper's parent. But Stanton outlined strategies that he believes will leverage the paper's traditional strengths in the digital age.

Stanton held the post of innovation editor before taking the helm of the newsroom in February 2008. In that role, he focused on integrating the paper's print and online operations, an initiative that remains crucial to the long-term sustainability of the Times.

Now that the paper's online presence attracts 20 million readers, Stanton is training seasoned journalists to work in a new medium.

"In some ways, it's bringing back the old wire-service mentality. You start with solid beat reporting, hop on it, file it quickly and file updates," he observed.

He talked about the paper's new emphasis on "360-degree storytelling," creating interactive packages that enhance traditional stories with graphics, maps or video.

"Today, readers can get any paper in the world with a click of the mouse," Stanton said. "We have to own certain pieces of the pie. We need to own coverage of the entertainment industry."

The paper is struggling to monetize its online popularity, given that most Internet users are reluctant to pay for content. LATimes.com generated enough revenue to pay for newsroom operations this year, giving Stanton hope that a new sustainable business model is taking shape.

Associates breakfasts are open to members of the Milken Institute Associates. To join, please contact Mindy Silverstein, director of Milken Institute Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or msilverstein@milkeninstitute.org.