Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tom Wolfe on Jim Bellows

From Time:

By Tom Wolfe

Barely 40 when he edited the New York Herald Tribune, he had the posture of an 80-year-old. His body was skin and bones, nourished solely by cigarettes, cigarettes, cigarettes, as far as I could tell. Everybody said he didn't actually speak. He mumbled. In fact, that odd sound was the audible tone of the megavolt current generated by his passionate fascination with the human comedy.

Just 20 minutes before deadline one evening, I made it back to the city room with, if I do say so, a hot story about the notorious numbers racketeer Newsboy Moriarty. In the first sentence, I took readers down into the lint at the bottom of Moriarty's loot-lined trouser pockets. Bellows must have loved that lint as much as I did, because as I was finishing the second sheet of copy, he materialized and said in his electric whisper, "Keep it coming. Everything you've got. I don't care how long it is. I want it all." In my 53 years as a writer, that remains the greatest compliment I have ever received.

Bellows loved hot stories written in acrobatic prose. Only under Bellows could the Trib's Sunday supplement, New York, have turned into a showcase for the radical experiment now called the New Journalism. Bellows' Trib became the hottest newspaper in America.

The only thing Bellows liked better than high style and muscular editorial content was a fight. He would poke any eye to start one. In 1965 I wrote a story for New York having some sport with William Shawn, editor of the New Yorker. The moment our issue came off the press, Bellows sent a copy to Shawn. The detonator was a little inscription on the calling card that accompanied it: "With my compliments, James G. Bellows."

Oh, and all those cigarettes? Bellows died March 6 at 86, without ever having experienced so much as a dry cough.

Newsman Bellows shaped glory days of print journalism

By Tony Castro

The names most often associated with Jim Bellows, the fabled newspaper editor who died last Friday at the age of 86, were Jimmy Breslin and Tom Wolfe - the legendary journalists whose early careers he helped shape into the biggest bylines in the country.

But the names I most associate with Jim are those of three artists who became indelibly linked with him in my memory the night he hosted a cocktail party at his Brentwood home for all his new hires at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in February of 1978, not long after he became that newspaper's editor. [Click for MORE]

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As Cities Go From Two Papers to One, Talk of Zero

“In 2009 and 2010, all the two-newspaper markets will become one-newspaper markets, and you will start to see one-newspaper markets become no-newspaper markets,” said Mike Simonton, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, who analyzes the industry.

Many critics and competitors of newspapers — including online start-ups that have been hailed as the future of journalism — say that no one should welcome their demise. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Eli Broad on Philanthropy, Newspaper Ownership

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Los Angeles Times Editor Chats About Cuts in His Newsroom With Predecessor Who Resisted Them

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Memories of Legendary Editor Jim Bellows

Jon Carroll writes:

A long time ago, I spent a brief time as managing editor of West, which was then the Sunday magazine of the Los Angeles Times. My boss was a legendary editor named Jim Bellows - I think he was legendary even then - who astonished me by giving me a surprisingly free rein and remaining sanguine even when some of my ideas didn't work out so well.

Bellows died last week at the age of 86. He was mourned by many people all over the country who had fallen under his odd, saturnine spell. [Click for MORE]

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How the LA Times Could Kill the Print Edition

Based on its current level of online ad revenue, L.A. Times Editor Russ Stanton says, the Times could support an online staff of about 275 people at their present salaries, and even offer a slight bump in benefits. This factors in office space, equipment, and all other major costs. And get this: The paper would be a solid moneymaker, boasting a profit margin of about 10%.

Of those 275 folks, Stanton figures, about 150 would work in the newsroom; the rest would sell ads, provide tech support, and handle various administrative duties. [Click for MORE]

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'An Inside Look' -- The Los Angeles Times Valley Edition - 1993*

Hat tip / Ed Padgett and Mike Klop

  • Farewell Chatsworth Printing Plant Slide Show
  • Final San Fernando Valley and Ventura County Editions were published Sunday, Jan. 8, 2006, when the facility was shuttered. The building was eventually sold to MGA, the company that makes Bratz dolls.

  • Broad's Interest in LA Times Still Alive
  • Eli Broad, a wealthy philanthropist who once looked at buying the Los Angeles Times, is still interested in a foray into the newspaper business, he told a gathering in New York on Monday night. "We can't afford to lose good newspaper journalism, investigative reporting."

* 1993?: Several readers point out to that the news meeting footage discusses the O.J. Simpson case, and the murders didn't occur until June 1994.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

The 10 Major Newspapers
That Will Either Fold or Go Digital Next

Over the last few weeks, the newspaper industry has entered a new period of decline. The parent of the papers in Philadelphia declared bankruptcy as did the Journal Register chain. The Rocky Mountain News closed and the Seattle Post Intelligencer, owned by Hearst, will almost certainly close or only publish online. Hearst has said it will also close The San Francisco Chronicle if it cannot make massive cuts at the paper. The most recent rumor is that the company will fire half of the editorial staff. That action still may not be enough to make the property profitable.

24/7 Wall St. has created its list of the ten major daily papers that are most likely to fold or shut their print operations and only publish online. The properties were chosen based on the financial strength of their parent companies, the amount of direct competition that they face in their markets, and industry information on how much money they are losing. Based on this analysis, it is possible that eight of the fifty largest daily newspapers in the United States could cease publication in the next eighteen months. [Click for MORE]

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