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Hollywood papers struggle; L.A. paper loses local news section [UPDATED]

January 30, 2009 |  7:59 am

Variety Variety and the Hollywood Reporter have always been big competitors in covering Hollywood -- and in seeking lucrative Hollywood advertising. But they have both been hit hard by the economy. Reuters reports:

Winking headlines like Daily Variety's "Katz-and-Mouse Game Over," describing the rift between Jeffrey Katzenberg and then-CEO of Walt Disney Co. Michael Eisner, speak volumes to Hollywood insiders. But [USC professor Jonathan] Taplin, among others, said the papers are rapidly becoming outmoded as readers go to blogs that provide an edgier version of film and TV news. MovieCityNews editor [David] Poland said he expects The Hollywood Reporter will become a Web-only news outlet, and Daily Variety will cut back to publishing twice weekly. Both have long histories, and can raise revenue online from their archives.

Of course, L.A.'s big daily is having its own financial woes. And L.A. Observed reports that the publisher of The Times has come up with a controversial plan: Killing the "California" section of the paper. The move would allow later deadlines for the "Calendar" section, which now goes to press in the early afternoon. Kevin Roderick reports that top Times editors are bracing for the angry reader calls.

-- Shelby Grad

Updated at 12:12 p.m: Here's the memo from Publisher Eddy Hartenstein:


As you know from reading our front page and our homepage, not a day goes by that we don't give our readers the latest news and analysis on the deepening troubles of the US economy. The same challenges that face the companies we report about also are affecting us.  We need to implement changes to our flagship print product, and throughout our organization, that will ensure our future as the #1 source of news and information in Southern California. 

In the coming weeks, we will introduce a number of changes to the way we do business, including a new sectional line-up for the paper.  These are necessary to facilitate greater efficiencies in how we approach our operations, production and distribution and, as a result, we expect to eliminate approximately 300 positions. 

Beginning March 2nd the paper will be presented in four main news sections:

A/Main News will be repositioned to present local, national and international coverage and opinion together - as each informs, impacts and shapes the others in our everyday lives. The California section report will lead A, followed by The Nation, The World and then Opinion.  The result will combine the stories and reporting of our two most widely-read print sections into one cohesive section.

Business will be the second section in the paper, and the report will be enhanced by bringing back the "Company Town" feature, which will serve as the anchor for our "business of entertainment" coverage.  The obituaries and weather pages will remain at the back of this new B section.

Sports will be the third section, and we'll be moving the classified advertising pages to the back of this new C section.

Calendar will be the fourth section, and this move allows its deadlines to be pushed deep into the evening (aka "second-daily"), allowing us to make our primary space for entertainment coverage more news-driven. This will enrich this current "must read" section even further, enabling us to add features such as overnight reviews.

The feature-section lineup will remain unchanged, with Health on Monday, Food on Wednesday, Home on Saturday and Image, Travel and Arts & Books on Sunday.  The Sunday lineup also will be unchanged, except for the California report appearing in the A section. 

These moves are designed to help us deal with the economic realities of the day, while continuing to allow us to deliver a high-quality product to our readers and advertisers.  We remain unwavering in our commitment to serve our community and to our mission. 

We'll be providing more details in the days ahead.