Daily Archives: November 13, 2002

Some advice for the LA Times

As Matt Welch notes, my wife and I are big fans of Amy Alkon.
She is smart, she is witty, her advice is always dead on target and she is such a good writer that the rest of us who string words together are comparable hacks. Dear Abby is dead. Ann Landers is dead. It’s a new generation. Let the old bats rest in piece. I can’t understand why newspapers continue to carry the late advice peons when they could run “The Advice Goddess” instead.
Given that Alkon is so good and most of what newspapers run in lieu of Alkon is so bad, should I really be shocked that a big-city newspaper editor really sent Amy this rejection letter:

I’m responding to your recent letters to us. As I explained in my email below, during our redesign, we thought a lot about the columns that we wanted to use.

We are not interested in adding any others, so I’d like to save you the trouble from writing us in the future. We’re quite content. Additionally, we are not in the market for writers, so again, there’s no need for you to continue to write us.

Good luck to you

Rude is the first word that springs to my mind. It would be rude if this note were sent to an illiterate thug. It is beyond rude to send something like this to any professional writer, let alone a writer of Alkon’s talent, reputation and accomplishments.
It’s also dumb. I mean, if I got such a rude e-mail from an editor, I would never write for that publication again, and as an editor, no matter how overstocked with writers you may think yourself, there will come a day when you’re not so overstocked. Sherry Stern is obviously not a very forward thinking person. Um, well, actually, I guess we can’t really say she is even a thinking person. Is she even a sensate being?
Part of the reason that this gets under my skin is that I’m a writer — I’m a writer who has dealt with major metro papers before — including the LAT, and though I’ve had both good and bad experiences with these papers, I still find the institutional arrogance of major papers to be so overblown that you wonder how some of these editors fit into their Audi coupes.
I also take this note as further proof that the LAT hasn’t a clue about good writing. I mean, they reject Amy and you’ve got to wonder how they can let so much fabulous talent — such as Layne, Welch and Pierce — drift around in their own back yard and they never harness it? If the LAT editors really cared about putting out a great 21st-Century newspaper, none of these writers would be depending on PayPal to supplement their incomes. Continue reading

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