New Yorker and Nikki Finke

Hosted by

This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

As if we needed any more proof, this week brought fresh evidence of the ways that the media picture is changing, in L.A. and in the geography-free, wild wild world of the web.

The New Yorker magazine, whose writer Tad Friend covers Hollywood and the rest of California from his home base in Brooklyn, sent Friend to profile Nikki Finke.

If you don't know of Finke, you don't work in Hollywood - or read many local blogs. She is a former LA Times and New York Post reporter who created, and recently sold for big bucks, an entertainment news website called Deadline Hollywood Daily.

The New Yorker deemed her worthy of many thousands of words because Finke breaks a lot of exclusive news about Hollywood and has a lot of readers at the industry's highest levels.

And also because there's a never-ending debate, in and around Hollywood, about her methods and whether she's ethical and credible enough.

Friend quoted partisans on both sides, and concluded that Finke is a hard worker with great sources and shifting loyalties.

She's for the little guy, Friend says – but only until the next big guy chats her up.

He repeats the observations of rival Hollywood journalists that her scoops sometimes aren't. And that she sometimes goes back and alters posts to make her stuff look better.

None of it reached the gotcha level, and at 6:23 on Sunday morning Finke posted a sarcastic dismissal, claiming Friend didn't land any blows.

She gloated that some of her Hollywood defenders had even manipulated the New Yorker into watering down the piece. She offered some juicy details, along with personal swipes at Friend and the magazine's editor, David Remnick.

In the end, Finke's rivals, who include ex-friends, were disappointed that yet another mainstream media profile had failed to drive a stake through the heart of the Nikki Finke phenomenon. responded by offering $1,000 to anyone who produces a recent photo of Finke. She avoids the Hollywood social scene and is seldom seen out.

Through the lens of media change, it's hard not to see the New Yorker profile -- of essentially a blogger -- as a big new piece of evidence illustrating the power shift away from traditional media forms.

Another came with the news that the venerable Gourmet magazine has been losing money – gobs of it – and would be shutting down immediately.

This seemed to smack a whole lot of foodies and media observers especially hard. They devoured every luscious issue of Gourmet, and could not believe that its day is over.

But, on the Forbes magazine website, former New York Times writer Amanda Hesser explained that the world of food writing moves too fast now for a monthly magazine to hold readers.

No matter how well-written and captivating an article on artisan butchers might be, she said, the stories felt "sleepy -- and quaint."

For me the most welcome media news of the week was the resumption of the weekly show SoCal Connected on KCET. The show's reports and mini-documentaries won a bunch of awards for its first season, and I was relieved to see season two survive budget cuts at the PBS station.

At a time when local TV is shedding its responsibility to the community, SoCal Connected's in-depth reporting stands out as even more valuable.

Finally, a tip of the LA Observed cap to photographer Irving Penn, who died at age 92. He's best known for his fashion and celebrity photos for Vogue, but there's an exhibit running now at the Getty Center that confirms Penn as a major 20th century artist.

And this quirk of radio coincidence. Food writer Amanda Hesser, and New Yorker writer Tad Friend, polish their observations in the same Brooklyn apartment. They're married.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.