This week marks a new era in local news. As announced earlier by editor John Canalis, beginning today, Monday, November 12, 2012, The Daily Pilot - our newspaper of record for more than a century - has taken another significant step backward as it wrestles with the requirements of producing the best local news while trying to remain fiscally sound and support its parent company's attempts to emerge from bankruptcy.
DOWN TO 5 DAYS PER WEEK
This week The Daily Pilot, which has not been "daily" for some time when it dropped Mondays, becomes even less so as they transition to producing a print product only 5 days per week - Wednesday through Sunday - dropping Tuesdays beginning tomorrow.
COLUMNISTS DROPPED, REDUCED OR SHIFTED
Coincident with this change, we will also no longer see some familiar bylines. Weekly columns produced by Greer Wylder, Amy Senk, Chuck Cassity, Crissy Brooks and Mona Shadia have all been dropped. Shadia moved on to the Orange County Register.
Both Jack Wu and Jeffrey Harlan will be published every other week instead of weekly. Steve Smith's column will be published on Fridays and Jim Carnett's column will be found on Wednesdays.
Patrice Apodaca and Bruce Cook will remain as weekly columnists.
These changes come on the heels of the departure of ace reporters Joseph Serna and Mike Reicher. Serna moved on to the parent newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, and Reicher now covers our area for The Register.
THE REGISTER GOES THE OTHER WAY
Personally, I'm saddened that these changes have been made, but it seems to be representative of changes throughout the print media nationally. All of them seem to be looking for the right blend of print and electronic media to provide the news promptly and still be able to make money on it. The exception is the Orange County Register, whose new owner Aaron Kushner, is doing the exact opposite. He's throttling back the electronic side and is pouring tons of money into revitalizing the print product. Recently he's advertised for dozens of media types - writers, reporters, editors, etc. - as witnessed by the departure of Shadia and Reicher from The Daily Pilot.
In a related move, veteran newsman Roger Bloom - editor of the Newport Beach Independent and a mainstay at the Feet To The Fire Forums - will also soon join the Register to help establish more local newspapers similar to The Current that it distributes in our area each Friday. The Indy is part of Firebrand Media in Laguna Beach and is still wrestling with their business model. Right now they publish daily online and one day per week in print.
WHO'S LEFT - OLD GRUMPY AND ME?
I'm sorry that The Daily Pilot will diminish it's presence in our communities. I hope they will continue to ramp up their electronic product and provide us with timely, accurate local news. If "real" news outlets continue to shrink and, in some instances, disappear, it may leave the production of "news" to local blogs like this one and others. That would be a real tragedy.