85.7 F
San Fernando
Thursday, Jun 1, 2023

Different Takes on Covering the Inauguration from Afar

The struggling economy, job losses, slumping retail sales and impeached governors will take a backseat to the history taking place in Washington, D.C. this week. When Barack Obama takes the oath of office at noon on Jan. 20, it will only be 9 a.m. on the West Coast, creating problems perhaps for businesses whose employees may want to watch the proceedings. If anything, the morning commute may be lighter. “I think people who are dedicated will take a moment (to watch), and if you are at work, work will stop,” said Zach Behrens, editor of the LAist website. Print, broadcast and online media outlets have spent weeks working out their coverage plans. LAist received what Behrens called the “golden ticket” for a reporter to attend the inauguration through Congressman Adam Schiff’s office. The site will also rely on its sister site in Washington, D.C. to provide coverage. With news networks providing the bigger, historical picture of Obama’s swearing in, the local media can concentrate on what it means to their readers and viewers. That’s the strategy at KNBC in Burbank, which will broadcast network coverage from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. In Los Angeles, news crews will be stationed at various inauguration viewing events, said Keith Esparros, the assistant news director. “We will be going into different communities in Los Angeles from schools, churches and even to workplaces getting the feel of what this means to Angelenos,” Esparros said. While the station is not sending a reporter to the festivities, it has made arrangements to be in contact with Los Angeles locals who are attending, Esparros added. Daily News reporter Connie Llanos is traveling with a group of fifth and sixth graders from Children’s Community School in Van Nuys. On Jan. 18, the Daily News published a special section on Obama’s election with a biography, local essays and a collage of commentaries and on Jan. 21 will have an expanded front section with inauguration coverage. The print run for the paper on both days will be increased by 15,000 to 20,000 copies. There was much discussion about putting out an extra edition the day of the event, said editor Carolina Garcia. It was decided not to do an extra because they did not know if street sales would be strong outside of a centralized downtown area. “The geography works against us,” Garcia said. More Staff Cuts The Daily News will put out its inauguration issue with a smaller staff as nine editorial employees were let go on Jan. 7. Two days later came word via www.laobserved.com/ that publisher Doug Hanes had left the newspaper. Hanes joined the Daily News in September 2007. Personnel cuts are something all newspapers are struggling with and hard decisions need to be made about their survival, Garcia said. The paper has done about all it can do to cut expenses and other area needed to be looked at, she said. “There is nowhere else to go but with personnel,” Garcia said. “It’s really tough right now. “The hard thing is that everybody is so good here. The more I get to know the staff the more I realize the true loss of everyone who leaves.” Among the newsroom losses is editorial cartoonist Patrick O’Connor. Locally drawn cartoons are a rare thing in newspapers these days and 15 cartoonists were either laid off or took buyouts in 2008, including Steve Greenberg of the Ventura County Star. Back in the 1980s, there were more than 300 editorial cartoonists. In an interview with National Public Radio on the loss of cartoonists at daily newspapers, Ted Rall, head of The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, said a paper is in trouble when the staff cartoonist gets the ax. “I feel a little like Mikhail Gorbachev at the end of the Soviet Union,” Rall said in the interview. “I feel a little like I’m presiding over the beginning of the end here.” Setting Sun? The month-long hiatus the Sun Newspaper chain announced it would be taking in August now enters into its sixth month, leading one to question whether they will ever publish again. The break was taken to allow for management to explore options to keep publishing the newspapers serving Studio City, Sherman Oaks and Encino. E-mail exchanges with publisher Judy Proffer indicated a new owner would be stepping in. She was in “extensive dialogues” with a buyer in late September. A month later, Proffer said she might have some news to share. Still, nothing happened. Her reply to an e-mail on Jan. 12 was that she was having a meeting two days later after which she could give more “clarity” as to the paper’s future. In the meantime, other papers are stepping in to fill the void left by the Sun’s absence. Marci Marks, a former Sun advertising sales rep, joined with Jim Kaplan, a co-founder of the Sun, to produce the 16-page Sherman Oaks-Studio City News. The paper is delivered to 10,000 single-family homes south of Ventura Boulevard and in a small area of Studio City. When the paper began distribution in October some people mistook it for the Sun, said Marks, the editor and publisher. “The advertisers are thrilled and members of the local community were thrilled, too,” Marks said. “It is a hard time for a lot of advertisers but a community paper like ours fills a niche.” Charles Beris, of Synergy Media Co., has grander plans in mind to expand his SFV News to Studio City, Sherman Oaks and a small portion of Toluca Lake. When the Sun announced its hiatus, Beris immediately responded with a press release that his free paper would move into the area. The economy, however, derailed those plans and now Beris anticipates getting the paper out in May. “We are looking at the businesses down there,” Beris said. “We want to make sure we are not asking too much and giving a return on their investment.” Beris started the SFV News in late 2006 to cover the north Valley districts of Granada Hills, Chatsworth, Porter Ranch and Northridge. The new edition will be a separate publication with stories specifically for Studio City and Sherman Oaks in addition to some shared content from the north Valley edition. Staff Reporter Mark Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or by e-mail at mmadler@sfvbj.com . He met then-State Sen. Barack Obama when covering the Illinois legislature in April 2000.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Featured Articles

Related Articles