Off-Ramp

Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

LA Times Squanders Another Chance

(Check out John's weekly show Off-Ramp!)

Don't get me wrong, the LA Times' Bill Dwyre and Lance Pugmire do a great job covering Chris Arreola's loss to Vitali Klitschko last night. But why did the paper bury the story?

It was on the front page ... of the sports section. It deserved to be on the front page of the newspaper.

Why?

-- Arreola was vying to be the first Mexican-American champ.
-- Arreola was raised in East LA and lives in Riverside.
-- The fight, for the world heavyweight championship, happened in downtown LA at Staples.
-- Arreola is funny, charming, and candid (see the Off-Ramp interview).

But even more, and I don't care if you rank this first or last, the newspaper is dying for readership, and is perceived as a white liberal paper. Put the damn thing on the front page, where Mexican-Americans might see it and think, "Oh, a story I might want to read." And buy the paper. (Hell, it might also increase readership by Ukrainians.)

Even if you dispute its newsworthiness, and you'd be wrong, when a paper is in danger of extinction, it needs to work a lot harder to capture readers of all stripes, to change people's expectations of the paper. What did we get instead of the Arreola story on the front page? A story about Neutra and Wright houses coming on the market more frequently. Not that Mexican-Americans don't care about architecture ... but that's exactly what I expect on the front page of the Sunday LA Times.

This reminds me of when famed Mexican cowboy singer Antonio Aguilar died in 2007 and the paper didn't put his obit on the front page, opting instead for a feature on the centennial of the birth of white cowboy singer Gene Autry. They could even have combined the coverage: "Antonio Aguilar, sold 25-million records and filled Madison Square Garden for six consecutive nights, dead at 88; Gene Autry, great man, SoCal benefactor, recipient of five stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame, still dead."

Someone will respond that this is a deadline problem. I suppose the Sports section goes to press later than the front page. I'm not sympathetic. When you're battling for your life, you try to find a way to win. Sticking with the same old strategy gets you knocked out before the fight is even over.

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