Most staff appointments at newspapers are little noticed, although that may be changing nowadays as many newsrooms have either frozen staffing levels or trimmed bodies in recent years.
Among the latter has been the Los Angeles Times, still mighty and putting out a quality product, even though it continues to bleed circulation (about 852,000, down about 5.4 percent from a year ago).
The sports section has not been immune to cutbacks, with the result that fewer local college teams get coverage, there's less agate in the back pages and reporters don't travel quite like they used to.
So, it should raise more than a few heads when newish sports editor Randy Harvey names a three-man team to do investigations and enterprise reporting in the section.
Smart move. If the Times, or any newspaper, is to thrive in today's cutthroat media environment, it needs to provide content you can't get anywhere else. And that starts with old-fashioned, shoe-leather investigations.
Game coverage is, of course, vital. But it's no longer a reason to pay for a paper. Enterprise projects are. That the beancounters at Tribune Co. let this go through -- assuming they knew about it -- is quite a feat.
The key will be writing these pieces in such a way that they impress more than just Pulitzer judges. Brevity has never been the soul of wit at the Times. Provide the meat. Just don't forget to make it tasty.
Read the memo on the appointments at: http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2006/05/muscling_up_in_sports.html