Your Wednesday news roundup

LA Times' unique columnist, Buffalo's digital desert, the times at the Times

January 9, 2019
Category: Newsletters

The Los Angeles Times is adding a new position with a familiar name. LZ Granderson, probably best known nationally for his appearances on various ESPN platforms, has been named the paper’s Sports and Culture columnist. Poynter’s Tom Jones spoke to him and L.A. Times sports editor Angel Rodriguez about Granderson’s new gig.

What exactly will Granderson write about?

“In a lot of ways, it’s essentially an extension of my career,’’ Granderson, 46, said. “Some people say my work has always kind of resonated at the sectionality of sports and society, politics and culture. … So my job is to look at not just in between the lines, but the conductivity of the lines, and to try to help illustrate how those things are woven together more so than existing in separate silos.’’

Granderson is scheduled to start at the Times on Jan. 14.


Here’s the type of important story that news organizations in every major U.S. market could and should do. The Buffalo News’ Caitlin Dewey, using data from the Census Bureau, uncovered that while 80 percent of the Buffalo area is online, low-income pockets there have fallen off the grid, creating a troubling digital divide, or what the News aptly called “digital deserts.’’

For example, homes online in affluent neighborhoods such as Orchard Park and Amherst run at about 88 percent, while low income areas of Buffalo are anywhere between 37 and 71 percent. Internet is just too expensive for many, even in areas where homes can qualify for Spectrum Internet Assist, which offers basic service to low-income seniors and families with school-age children for $14.99 a month.

Anibal Soler of the Buffalo Public Schools system told Dewey, “If you’re choosing between keeping the heat on and paying for internet, you’re going to choose the heat. And many families do that.’’

Dewey, who returned to her hometown paper three-and-a-half months ago after spending six years at The Washington Post, said it took about two weeks to put together a story using data that had never been collected before at the neighborhood level.

“The disparity was pretty enormous,’’ Dewey told Poynter on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, it’s not unique to (Buffalo), but it revealed a pretty disheartening pattern.’’

Local officials are providing free Wi-Fi in certain locations, public schools are looking into what they can do and a number of initiatives from both the private and local sectors have been put in place to help fix the problem. But much remains to be done. Dewey said she expects to continue reporting on the topic.

More fallout from Monday’s news that The Dallas Morning News is laying off 43, including 20 in the newsroom. Talking Biz News is reporting that the paper is also cutting its standalone business news section. The Metro and Business sections will be combined into one section Tuesday through Saturday with prominent business stories being considered for the cover of the new combined section. There will be no Monday Business section, according to TBN.

The Orlando Sentinel announced Tuesday that it is launching its own fact-checking feature called Fact or Fake. It will run weekly and determine the accuracy of statements made by politicians, business and civic leaders, and “anyone in a position of influence’’ in Florida and, in particular, the Orlando area.

The editorial board of the Sentinel will do the checking, but it wants readers to help determine which speakers and statements should be verified.

“Truth is important,’’ the Sentinel wrote. “It always has been. But truth is under assault. With your help, we’ll hold those in power accountable for what they say.’’

New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger gave his state of the Times address to employees on Tuesday. And, it would appear, the state of the Times is in very good shape with successes in practically every area of media: print, digital, podcast and video. And it’s now adding television to the list with the launch of the The Weekly.

But for Sulzberger, it’s all about one thing.

“Many of you have heard me say that the world doesn’t need more ‘content,’’’ Sulzberger wrote. “There are enough hot takes, chat podcasts, and YouTube videos to sustain us through the apocalypse. What the world needs more of is great JOURNALISM.’’

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CORRECTION: Yesterday’s newsletter misspelled Susan Zirinsky’s name. We regret the error.