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Last Competent LANG Editor Hits Bricks

April 3rd, 2008 · No Comments · LANG, The Sun

Ron Kaye is about to announce his “retirement” from the Los Angeles Daily News, according to That is, he is being forced out.

You can see the story here.

This is another sad piece of news for print journalism in greater Los Angeles … because Kaye was the last competent editor in the benighted L.A. News Group, which is being hammered on an almost daily basis.

I never met the man. Never even spoke to him. But as a sports columnist for an L.A. News Group newspaper, my stuff was getting into Kaye’s newspaper with some regularity during his tenure. I often looked at the Daily News website and appreciated that the newspaper still seemed to have some fight left in it, that there still appeared to be some intelligent design behind it.

Even now, it beats the L.A. Times on matters large and small, with some really good reporting in sports and in city hall and in features. And it has some engaged readers, which I can’t say for the MediaNews papers east of the Long Beach Freeway. I got more e-mail from LADN readers in a day then I got from San Gabriel/Inland Empire readers in a week.

My sense from talking to people who work at the Daily New is that they appreciated what Ron Kaye was trying to do. Though, sadly, just how much he did for them won’t be clear until he is gone.

Kaye seemed to believe that LADN mattered, that it represented a large, often overlooked constituency (the San Fernando Valley) and that it provided a real service to the greater L.A. area as the last, most-coherent alternative to the L.A. Times. But that’s a downright subversive mindset in the MediaNews gulag.

Even as the LANG meltdown picked up speed, Kaye appeared to run the Daily News as if gathering news were an important priority. A sad misapprehension on his part. When he was forced to lay off 20 of his 120 newsroom employees, in late February, he apparently was in tears at a staff meeting. (Compare that to the soul-dead drones with editor titles at other LANG sites for whom layoffs are a form of sport.)

I can say with assurance that Kaye’s (theoretical) boss, LANG editor Steve Lambert (based in San Bernardino), loathes Ron Kaye. I’m going to guess the animus has several sources.

–Kaye continued to put out a real newspaper years after Lambert stopped trying.

–Kaye spent money on the product that was supposed to go to MediaNews coffers, blowing budget and not apologizing for it.

–Kaye’s “arrogant” suggestion that the Daily News was the LANG flagship (well, it was, truth be told) and thus deserving of special treatment. Like, being able to pay its top reporters and editors.

–Kaye somehow managing to pull this off instead of hewing to the company line and being a good MediaNews lackey — like Lambert and his sycophants.

Actually, I don’t know how Kaye survived as long as he did. Something like three years as editor, running things as if he worked for a real journalism company. I would be tempted to ascribe it to political savvy, but more probably it was MediaNews’ bare-bones management structure. It probably just took Dean Singleton and No. 1 Boy Dave Butler three years to get around to recognizing and removing that irritant in Woodland Hills.

I fear for the immediate futures of the real journalists I’m sure Ron Kaye was fighting for and defending up to his last days in power. His awkward commitment to the business earned him the enmity of other LANG officials, who have complained for years about the Daily News’ failure to make enough money.

Those Daily News newsroom cuts of last month? Look for more, and more painful, now that Ron Kaye is about to leave the building.


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