Posted by: twotrees | June 27, 2009

Keep shooting until you’re out of bullets…

L.A. Times Columnist Steve Lopez

L.A. Times Columnist Steve Lopez

L.A. Times Columnist Steve Lopez was in town Friday to speak to a group of journalists attending a national columnist’s convention.  Lopez, who has written for the Times for years and who returned to California after making his mark at the Philadelphia Enquirer, is notable for taking on the powerful and for championing the rights and lives of the less fortunate.

Of late, he’s been thrust into the spotlight for his work leading up to the recent film The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.  The film, about a brilliant musician who earned a scholarship to Julliard only to fall into the grasp of mental illness which forced him into the streets, started out as a column for Lopez.  That column turned into thirty dispatches on the life and times of Mr. Ayers.  Read some if it here http://www.latimes.com/la-me-lopez-skidrow-nathaniel-series,0,2823028.special

I was there to see what makes a person like Lopez tick.  After years of writing essentially the same thing, some columnists run out of gas.  Steve Lopez is not that sort as he understands a basic tenant of finding good stories – go out and look for them.

After a longcut description of some of his travels (Iraq, Michael Jackson, etc…) he got to the meat of what attendees wanted to hear:  what is the future of newspapers.  He relayed a story of how he and his editor were divying up their Hollywood Bowl tickets one afternoon when Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein walks by to chat about what stories the writer is working on.  Quickly hiding the tickets, Lopez realizes that the best defense is a good offense, and offers up a question of his own – where is the newspaper business headed?

Hartenstein asks for a sheet of paper to visually show them the answer.  He then proceeds to fold the sheet into a trifold, not unlike many brochures.  “THIS IS THE FUTURE!” exclaims the publisher, baffling both editor and journlist Lopez.  He then goes on to explain that there is work on a hand held, Kindle type of computer terminal that will present the newspaper of the future in 8.5″ x 11″ fashion.  The advantage will be that news pages can be updated on the fly and the portability is better than a laptop, more efficient than a printed page and more readable than a PDA.  The idea is to provide subscribers with this new device free of charge with their paid one year subscription.  It may be three years away and we’ll need to buy millions of these to make the expense worthwhile, relayed Hartenstein, who then explained that Tribune Company,  owners of the L.A. Times among various other media outlets, is in talks with other major daily newspaper groups to discuss banding together on this idea.

Paul Bowers, the Society’s student award winner in attendance at the luncheon, accepted his award and made the following remark  “My generation is overrated.  We have 100 ways of communicating but too often don’t anything to say.” 

As for Lopez and his thoughts on the future of journalism in print, he chose to repeat his friend and fellow N.Y. Times columnist David Carr’s comment  “I don’t know what we’re going to do about the future but I’m going to keep shooting until I’m out of bullets.”

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Responses

  1. Yes, Steve Lopez was fabulous, speaking to the NATIONAL SOCIETY OF NEWSPAPER COLUMNISTS

  2. and glad you used my photo of Steve Lopez, formerly of THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.
    …Bonnie Squires

  3. mr.lopez is looking in life something to fill a empty hole within his self he needs a mr. lopez in his life sometimes i bet life would be a better place if we would just help one person down i often wonder why god put mr.ayres in mr. lopezs path people are looking at then story in a diffrent light mr.ayres saved mr.lopezs life.


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