Experts at Keeping Readers in the Dark

By T.J. Simers

You have probably seen the placards around town, promising to make you, “The Last To Know.”

Or, the LA Times motto: “All the news fit to print elsewhere and then we’ll copy it here for you.”

We all love surprises, the key to a good TV show now and apparently the morning newspaper, a shocking surprise right out of the blue to leave you wanting more.

I know I read the Times and I always want more.

But kudos to the folks involved at USC and UCLA and all the Times’ reporters assigned to know what’s going on out there.

Never once did we get a hint in the USC or UCLA hometown newspaper the Trojans or Bruins were even considering jumping to the Big Ten.

How do you keep something that big so quiet? Is the newspaper and all of its reporters that out of touch or was the plan to knock everyone’s socks off with a surprise announcement?

How hard that must’ve been, though, all those reporters being paid to get the scoop and not one of them clueing in the Times’ readership with the news until after it been reported elsewhere.

I think that’s why we all go online now to check what the newspaper missed. But then again the Times is really good at knowing nothing, not a word even on twitter and USC and UCLA are the schools they regularly cover.

I would think that’s taking a chance, not informing the Trojans’ faithful and the Bruins’ honks of what’s happening with their favorite schools, but what are people going to do — cancel their subscriptions? Again?

Hey, it was a complete success, the L.A. Times making sure, as its promotional campaign promises, you were the last to know.

The Times reported the first hint that this was going to happen came from the San Jose Mercury News. I think they were the first to report the Mercury News was on the job.

I believe USC and UCLA are essentially located in Los Angeles, so it must have been difficult to ignore all the sources here in town.

What a pleasure to read a story quoting unnamed sources. The Times apparently had none, but at least they didn’t make up any.

Do you think USC’s Lincoln Riley has a better relationship with the newspaper in San Jose than the one in L.A.? You have to believe USC clued in Riley, the Trojans’ great revival hope, telling him he might want to start watching what Jim Harbaugh does.

Maybe the Times chooses not to bother Lincoln.

In my day Pete Carroll or Karl Dullard would have loved that.

I must say, the Times has so much experience now in not getting the news first that they go crazy trying to catch up. They had three bylines, including columnist Bill Plaschke, on their “USC, UCLA to the Big Ten” story trying to rewrite what the newspaper in San Jose reported earlier.

I’ve always thought Plaschke would make a great rewrite man.

None of the three names affixed to the Times’ story had any inkling of the blockbuster USC-UCLA news or else they would have rushed it into print before San Jose and taken a bow.

I wonder if they checked with their sources at USC or UCLA to find out why they were holding out on them. I wonder if they have sources. I wonder if they called USC or UCLA and began by saying, anything else you want us to keep out of the paper?

As for those who want to stay up to date on USC and UCLA, it will be 99 cents for the first three months and $14 a month after that to read The Mercury News online.

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