Readers' Representative Journal

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Best to hold the 'Los' when it comes to Angelenos

August 5, 2009 |  1:34 pm

Farmers Market 75th anniversary partyThe article was about a beloved place that's been on the local landscape for 75 years, so perhaps the headline was even more a stick in the eye to Peter Rutenberg of Westwood. He sent an e-mail expressing irritation for the language over a story about a local farmers market. He had no problem with the main headline -- "Still fresh, yet familiar, at 75." But he balked at this subheadline: "Los Angelenos and the Original Farmers Market have mingled cozily since 1934."

Rutenberg's letter to the editor started out, "I've been a fan of the Farmer's Market for 52 years, so I loved the story. But c'mon guys! The people of this town are 'Angelenos' not LOS Angelenos. It's one thing when out-of-towners blow it, but it's an insult when the hometown paper can't even get it right."

By the time Henry Fuhrmann saw that e-mail forwarded from the letters department, he'd already fielded some internal complaints along the same lines. Fuhrmann is the assistant managing editor who oversees the copy editors, those responsible for writing the headlines.

To answer several people's questions: Yes, the editor who wrote the headline is from Los Angeles, not another town, say, Chicago.

(For what it's worth, the discussion isn't new, and there isn’t necessarily consensus. Back in 1985, another beloved institution, Jack Smith, wrote in his column, "I am an Angeleno. You are an Angeleno. We are Angelenos, not Los Angelenos." That was in response to a reader indignant that a headline said "Angelenos," rather than "Los Angelenos.")

As for reader Rutenberg's complaint, Fuhrmann said in an e-mail: "I also found the use of 'Los Angeleno' odd, as did a few newsroom colleagues and friends outside The Times. In fairness to our headline writer, I will note that our dictionary lists 'Los Angeleno' as an acceptable term. A search of our clips shows that 225 other stories have used the term or its plural since 1985, so in that regard our writer -- a native Venturan, for the record -- was not alone. Nevertheless, 'Angeleno' wins out over “Los Angeleno” by a ratio of 35 to 1 in past stories, and I’m all for the wisdom of the crowd prevailing here. I will caution our copy desk to avoid 'Los Angeleno' except in direct quotations, the names of works of art or other contexts in which we typically do not change someone else’s wording."

Photo: People, possibly even Angelenos, celebrate the Farmers Market's 75th anniversary last month. Credit: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times

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