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LA Times Book Fest: The Times, They Aren't A-Changin'

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Saturday’s “The Future of News” panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was quite a raucous event. Panelists were James Taranto, editor of the Wall Street Journal’s opinion website, ABC News political analyst Mark Halperin and Times editor James O’Shea (whose introduction met with hisses and boos). The discussion was moderated by Marjorie Miller from the Times, who opened with the comforting observation that ”we don’t really have a clue about the future of news.”

The consensus, of course, was that the future of news lies in the almighty Web, ironic since as I was taking notes on my computer for this blog, one of the festival volunteers informed me that I couldn’t use a laptop. Afterwards, I made me way to the volunteer center to talk to one of the volunteer coordinators, who said volunteers use their “own judgment” in those matters. When I asked for a copy of their training material that outlines what tools the media are allowed to use, he refused to give it to me. So much for “the future of news” as seen through the eyes of the Times.

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But more trouble brewed at the panel discussion. Questions afterward revealed a manifest distrust and bitterness for the major print media. Audience members complained about the unilateralism and cheapening of news reporting. One woman even lamented that now she has to go to multiple sources to get at the truth. Gasp!