OLD Media Moves

Free Dan Neil from LA Times biz section, Web site

January 26, 2010

Matthew DeBord of The Big Money wants the Los Angeles Times to give a more prominent spot to Pulitzer Prize-winning auto critic Dan Neil than his current position in the business section.

DeBord writes, “There’s often a vitally important, or at least highly entertaining, critic essaying away in American media — a Robert Hughes writing about art for Time, a Jonathan Gold on food for the LA Weekly — and it’s usually not that hard to find him or her. But Neil is a different story. In car-mad L.A., he’s the best thing the beleaguered LAT (to which I’ve often contributed) has going for it. And yet, every time he offers up one of his inimitable car reviews, one has to dig and dig in the LAT’s oft-reworked website to discover what he has to say.

“It wasn’t always so. Neil used to be the marquee voice of a stand-alone LAT section, now defunct, called ‘Highway 1.’ Every week, you could check in with his views on cars and car culture. Highway 1 was a reason to buy the print edition of the paper, particularly because it also featured Susan Carpenter writing about motorcycles as ‘Throttle Jockey.’ It was a great one-two punch. In New York, folks crave the Wednesday appearance of the dining section in the New York Times; in L.A., Highway 1 performed a similar function and instilled a parallel addiction. Until it was killed and Neil was sucked into the clutches of the business section. Neil also wrote a column for the LAT Magazine, on interests unrelated to cars, but that also went away when the magazine was axed, leaving Angelenos with no Neil on the weekends.

“The challenge now is to find Neil on the website. It isn’t easy. You have to know where to go. It’s not, after all, like his material gets primo real estate on the home page. First you click on Business, the you have to slide all the way over the Autos. Voila! Big Dan. But that’s a lot of work to locate the alpha dog of the LAT’s A-list. At a time when newspapers are desperate to transition readers successfully from the print product to the online experience.”

Read more here.

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