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Newsonomics: What was once unthinkable is quickly becoming reality in the destruction of local news
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June 27, 2016, 1:51 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: www.nytimes.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   June 27, 2016

The New York Times, no stranger to focused newsletters, is turning its attention to California.

With California Today, the new morning newsletter it is testing this week, the Times is taking a focused look at news close to California residents. Its first edition includes coverage of the wildfires raging through California, the ongoing drought, and violence at a neo-Nazi protest over the weekend. It’s not all bad news, though: The newsletter also features coverage of upcoming summer festivals and sporting events, as well as some softer news about the world’s ugliest dog. The newsletter is led by Los Angeles-based staffer Ian Lovett, who covers the news with a loose, conversational tone.

If it moves forward, California Today would be an interesting sibling to the Times’ stated interest in international expansion, where it’s investing $50 million in initiatives like NYT en Español. The Times’ “Our Path Forward” memo from last fall listed email newsletters as one area where the paper planned more focus; its Morning and Evening Briefings, originally built for its NYT Now app, have been notable successes on mobile.

The Times has worked on creating California-specific content before, most notably through its partnership with the San Francisco-based Bay Citizen, which teamed up with the Times in 2010 to produce special California-focused articles that appeared online and in Bay Area print editions of The Times. The relationship ended in 2012 when The Bay Citizen merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting.

And, while life isn’t rosy for any part of the American newspaper world, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Times saw a market opportunity in California, which has seen more than its share of print chaos lately: the bankruptcy sale of the Orange County Register, the consolidation of the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times, and whatever Tronc ends up doing to the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune. As of last spring, the Times sold 67,000 daily print copies in California, the most of any state outside New York. (We asked the Times for comment this morning and will update if we hear back.)

Early reception to the newsletter on Twitter has generally been positive, with several hoping that the Times makes the project a permanent one:

1890 map of Southern California by Rand McNally via Norman B. Leventhal Map Center.

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