Feb 6th 2003 | LOS ANGELES

From The Economist print edition

Los Angeles has lost one newspaper but is about to gain another AP

Riordan has his say

AS MAYOR of Los Angeles, and during his brief run for governor of California last year, Richard Riordan was a gift to journalists. Affable and unguarded, he spoke (and sometimes misspoke) his mind in a way that reflected his earlier years building a fortune in business, rather than the polishing efforts of spin-doctors. Now Mr Riordan wants to put $5m of his fortune towards starting a new weekly newspaper in Los Angeles.

The LA Examiner is due to start publication in June. A prototype produced last month gives a hint of what to expect. The editors, Ken Layne and Matt Welch, two experienced newspapermen who were pioneers in the online world of weblogs, have put together a colourful 52-page tabloid full of articles by an array of seasoned LA journalists and a few well-known outsiders, such as Billy Crystal. The aim, says Mr Layne, is to reflect the cultural energy of the city and, naturally, to cover local stories better than the existing media does.

This is a reference to the Los Angeles Times, the dominant local daily�and hardly a favourite with the Examiner crew. Mr Riordan griped at it throughout his time as mayor and during his failed run for governor. Messrs Layne and Welch, irritated by what they saw as the Times’s lack of basic beat reporting and its mealy-mouthed approach to racial issues, started a website in 2001 devoted to daily criticism of the paper. They called it LAExaminer.com in memory of an earlier competitor, the LA Herald Examiner.

If this sounds familiar, it is because the story is distinctly similar to that of the New York Sun, a right-wing newspaper which sprang out of smartertimes.com, an anti-New York Times site. Messrs Layne and Welch insist that they are less conservative sorts than their New York peers, but the Herald Examiner is still likely to be more right-wing than the LA Times, and it is making the same pitch as the Sun for upmarket readers.

Until last October Los Angeles had two free weekly �alternative� papers, the Los Angeles Weekly and the New Times LA. They both wrote about local politics, published entertainment listings and competed for advertising, especially for movies and sex services. In October, though, the New Times group, which is based in Phoenix, Arizona, reached a deal with the Weekly’s parent, Village Voice Media in New York: the New Times LA and the Village Voice’s Free Times in Cleveland would both close, letting the LA Weekly and the New Times’s Cleveland Scene raise advertising rates.

The news was a blow to LA readers who relished having alternative �alternatives�. But the Examiner has duly snapped up some New Times writers. Even better news came on January 27th, when the Department of Justice ordered the colluding weekly groups to pay fines and sell the assets of the closed newspapers, including the newspaper racks that sit on street corners. It will hardly hurt the Examiner to have had the leftish Weekly’s parent so briskly spanked for behaving like a scheming monopolist.

The Examiner plans to eschew sex-ads but still offer itself for free. This chaste, generous approach may make it hard for it to break even in three years, as it hopes. Mr Layne loyally argues that one attraction will be the voice of Mr Riordan himself, who will have a column. Another interfering proprietor? At least he dropped his original plan (possibly not altogether serious) to call the paper the Big Dick.

mssr matt welch + mssr ken layne

i never understood people who rode their bikes in the snow

ive never understood people who write checks at the supermarket.

ive never understood college republicans.

ive never understood famous people who get married in their early twenties.

ive never understood the chicks who have gone down on me.

ive never understood why people get palm pilots or people who get married just because they got accidentally pregnant.

ive never understood the fascination with barbara streisand.

ive never understood bus drivers who peel out when there are people running after them obviously wanting to board the bus in the middle of the night.

ive never understood why radio will play one song over and over and over again and then nothing else by the artist ever again just because their label didnt cut a new single off the cd.

ive never understood people who have lived in america for decades but still cant speak english. at all.

ive never understood this reasonably new trend that young women have where they’ll blow you but not fuck you, even if you have a condom, yet they’ll swallow, even.

ive never understood women who dress up so that other women will approve of them, sounds sorta gay to me.

ive never understood catholic priests who have given up having sex even though there isnt one word in the Bible anywhere that says that priests have to be celibate.

ive never understood people who insist on emailing me even though it’s obvious that i have no interest in communicating with them.

ive never understood half the girls who’ve liked me and half the girls who didn’t like me.

but ive always understood why the tribune corp hasnt ever gotten serious about the cubs.

it’s because the tribune corp is one of the most easilly identified sources of evil on this hemisphere.

what do we know

even though shes a sloppy mess

i really love courtney. how cant you?

like most strippers, she just cant stop showing us her boobies and i think that’s sweet.

thank you, courtney love for showing us your titties.

the flowage of love for the car fund is doing well right now. for that i also want to deliver up some thanks. thank you swell people!

16. sunana

17. kari

18. pete

19. gary

20. jay

i also got a sweet email from an interesting new yorker named jamie leigh.

and i got an email from jenny period who wants me to link her new blog where she says on it that she wants to meet me, but i lost the link.

oh well.

do you think i should take this car that you all chip in to get me and drive around one summer and meet everyone who flowed me?

i do.

speaking of sloppy messes, i saw that michael jackson thing last night. it made me sad for him. he’s in such a strange little bubble of unreality. it makes me want to hang out with him and let him know that its okay to mess around with the ladies instead of the little boys.

everyone wanted to play a little more as kids.

theres no reason to freak out over it for the rest of your life.

questions i would have asked michael jackson if i had done the interview:

ever watch porn?

think you have one more Thriller in ya?

do you do all this stuff to your appearance and lifestyle as a reaction to your abusive father or as an f-you to him?

have you ever felt comfortable messing around with women?

do you think that janet is messed up cuz of your father too?

why do you think that the rest of the world outside of the usa love you way more than americans?

what the fuck is up with Cubs?