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OUTSIDE THE TENT

And do you have to use black ink?

An occasional feature in which The Times invites outside critics (in this case, all past contributors to this year-old column) to give this Southern California newspaper a walloping headache, this time by suggesting resolutions it should make for 2006. They think it would be swell if The Times resolved:

January 01, 2006

* To forget the Pulitzers. The Times has been putting energy into prize-winning features that run once a year. Readers care more about the quality of day-in, day-out coverage. (Mickey Kaus)

* To print a piece about Los Angeles public schools that isn't either so boring or so terrifying that educated, middle-class parents might actually dare to send their kids there. (Sandra Tsing Loh)

* To publish a center-right political analyst with as many column inches per week as Ronald Brownstein is allocated. (Hugh Hewitt)

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday January 08, 2006 Home Edition Current Part M Page 2 Editorial Pages Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
Outside the tent: In a Jan. 1 column in which critics of The Times offered resolutions for 2006 ("And do you have to use black ink?"), the writer who called for reporters to "escape their desks and ubiquitously cover this metropolis" was David Abel, not Jamie Court.

* To make the Windy City [home of The Times' corporate owner, the Tribune Co.] come to its senses, rename The Times' California section "Metro Colossus In a Nutshell" and forever more expect experienced reporters to escape their desks and ubiquitously cover this metropolis such that never again will the newspaper be scooped in its own backyard. (Jamie Court)

* To tell the Tribune Co. to be satisfied in 2006 with a reasonable rate of profit and not be tempted to seek higher returns at the cost of lesser journalism. (Marc Cooper)

* To begin covering Orange County like the 21st century Ellis Island it is and not like Cudahy. (Gustavo Arellano)

* To encourage more columnists -- and even reporters -- to start blogs. (Patrick Frey)

* To send Bill Plaschke and Tommy Lasorda to divorce court. (Matt Welch)

* To promise to realize that newspaper feature sections are how young readers get into the daily newspaper- reading habit, and therefore quit contributing to declining circulation by tolerating such weak writing in Calendar. (Catherine Seipp)

* To expand its Rolodex to include more than the predictable roster of Najee Ali, Ramona Ripston and Earl Ofari Hutchinson when seeking "community reaction" to controversial police incidents. (Jack Dunphy [pseudonym for an LAPD cop] )

* To rediscover California's Capitol and redefine coverage to include how and why more than $100 billion a year in state taxes are expended. (David Abel)

* To review or profile a single restaurant or hotel in the Sunday magazine that people earning less than $100,000 a year could theoretically afford. (Welch)

* To fill a top editorial position with a staunch Republican -- that is, if we can find one. Anybody know a staunch Republican? (Frey)

* To offer more crime coverage and stop behaving as if The Times is protecting property values. It's a big city, I know. But New York is a big city too, and the New York Post manages to cover crime. (Kaus)

* To include tildes and accents in Spanish words. Or would that cost Tribune Co. too much, forcing Spring Street to lay off another business reporter? (Arellano)

* To remember the readers by restoring the number of letters to the editor and shrinking the number of editorial writers' letters. (Court)

* To debunk the top 10 myths it has spread about the L.A. Unified School District -- for instance, instead of having no arts, few know that the district's core-curriculum budget includes $33 million a year just for its excellent theater programs in elementary schools, proving that shootings don't provide the only drama. (Tsing Loh)

* To make it clear in stories about judicial nominations that opposition to Roe vs. Wade is not the same as opposition to legalized abortion. (Frey)

* To have at least a quarter of its columnists live in California to keep the wind bags from the Windy City from drowning out the Western voice of The Times. (Court)

* To write about proposed eminent domain seizures of residential property before L.A. Unified makes them faits accomplis. (Welch)

* To come up with a decent local gossip column by the time American troops come home from Iraq. I suggest a fixed timetable, with a firm deadline of the end of 2006! (Kaus)

* To introduce a new section focusing on Southern California's foreign-language newspapers in review. It will open now-closed windows and permit old Los Angeles to learn what new Los Angeles is all about. (Abel)

* To find a couple of full-time religion columnists who are mainstream within their faiths and already widely respected for their expertise. (Hewitt)

* To do a first-person series called "Johannesburg," in which a white journalist in Brentwood sensitively probes the angst of being a shrinking minority in a vast, brown but ever more complex and intriguing city. (Tsing Loh)

* To continue running "Outside the Tent." (Frey)

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