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LA Times Newsroom Oscar Flap: Reporters Had to Demand Tickets That Went to Tribune Brass

Reporters Amy Kaufman and Steve Zeitchik had a hard time accessing the Academy Awards

“Spotlight” was the big winner at Sunday night’s Academy Awards, putting newspapers front and center. Well, newspapers except for the L.A. Times.

Times reporters were scrambling for access to simply cover the Oscars after the paper’s six allocated passes for admission were used by the Tribune Publishing’s new leadership.

Tribune Publishing chairman Michael Ferro and CEO Justin Dearborn reportedly each brought a guest, using four of the passes. The final two were reportedly set aside for publisher Tim Ryan, but he gave up his seats after receiving an email from the Times’ film desk. Times reporters Amy Kaufman and Steve Zeitchik eventually used the tickets to cover the event.

L.A. Times editor Davan Maharaj issued a statement to TheWrap: We requested Michael and Justin attend the Awards ceremony, just like top media executives of other major outlets do. The film industry represents one of our most important coverage areas — and  the paper’s largest advertisers. We had a robust contingent of reporters and photographers on the red carpet, in the ballroom, backstage and in the auditorium. That’s why we had 3 million unique visitors consuming our continuous Oscar coverage.

The internal email from the film staff to publishers that was first reported by Politico‘s Ken Doctor details the frustration:

Tim and Davan,

We on the film team were shocked to learn this week that the paper has not allocated a single one of its Oscar tickets to a reporter.

All of our competitors will have reporters both in the Dolby and at the Governors Ball. Here’s how they’re using their Oscar tickets:

Entertainment Weekly: 2 reporters, 2 editors

AP: 2 reporters

The New York Times: reporter plus 1

The Wall Street Journal: reporter plus 1

The Hollywood Reporter: 1 reporter, 1 editor

Variety: 1 reporter, 1 editor

Our reporters do not sit through the show, but rather use this access to gather exclusive quotes on the controversies of the evening in the lobbies and bars, deliver feeds on how the audience is receiving the host and solicit comments from the losers, who are not made available in the press room.

Entertainment coverage is a bedrock of this paper’s identity. To fail to send a single reporter on a year when the Oscars are at the center of a cultural debate over diversity is not only embarrassing, it’s bad journalism. Would the LA Times ever cover a political convention or a sporting event this way?

Please tell us that you will reconsider, and distribute at least one of the Times’ Oscar tickets to a reporter.