Monday, June 29, 2009

Remembering my Dad, One Year after his Death

My father, Kenneth I. Reich, kept this blog for almost four years, until his death on June 30, 2008. I spent months trying to figure out the best way to honor him with a final post. Finally I decided to honor him with his own words.

Dad published millions of words during his 39 years at the Los Angeles Times, his three years with UPI and LIFE, and his four years as a blogger. He wrote a book, Making it Happen: Peter Ueberroth and the 1984 Olympics. I thought about posting a sample of his published work. But in the end, I opted for something more personal. In 2004, for my daughter’s first birthday, Dad gave her a memory book called “Grandfather Remembers.” It’s one of those silly books that you can buy in a stationery store, a precursor to “25 Things about Me” on Facebook. But I am so grateful that I have this book. It truly captures my father’s spirit.

Below are a few excerpts from my father’s remembrances. I hope that, as you read them, you relive your own favorite memories of my dad. There will never be someone else like him.

Kathy Reich

Early Years
I was born
March 7, 1938, Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, Los Angeles

My family lived in Los Angeles and, after 6, Palm Springs, California.

A hardship my family had to overcome was World War II, long absence of my father on naval service.

As a student I was valedictorian of my high school class and student body president.

My parents taught me to value government service, academic excellence, and California as a place to live.

I graduated from Dartmouth College, June 12, 1960

After I finished school I went to work for United Press International, LIFE Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times (1965).

47 Years in Journalism
A risk that I took that worked was
leaving Harvard Law School and going to work in journalism.

One that failed was going to work as an op-ed page editor of the Times (1972). I did not like being bound to a desk, and I ran pieces my superiors didn’t like.

The lesson I learned from that was to stick with reporting. My best assignments lay ahead.

The best career decision I ever made was to go into journalism and to go to work for the Los Angeles Times.

The most important promotions I ever had were to cover the 1984 Olympics (1977) and to cover Jimmy Carter’s race for President (1976).

People who influenced me the most were Lawrence Radway, Professor at Dartmouth; Norman Cherniss, Editor at Riverside Press-Enterprise; Ed Guthman, National Editor, L.A. Times; Judge Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Ninth Circuit.

They influenced me because they were wise men who had good ideas, were very moral in their point of view, and gave good advice on occasion.

I was always proud of the time I stood up against Mark Willes and Kathryn Downing, business people who compromised the integrity of the Times.

If I had my life to live over I’d work as a foreign correspondent for awhile, perhaps in India.

My first trip on a plane was
to New York—1953.

My most adventurous trip was around the world—1968—Hawaii, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Israel, and France.

What I remember most about that trip is visiting Hap and Joby Dunning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and meeting Abe and Amrita Abraham in Bombay, India.

The funniest thing that ever happened to me on a trip was hitting a rock in the road near Delphi, Greece in 1965, ripping out the transmission, and having to drive 40 miles in reverse, backwards, to where I could turn the car in.

Places in this country I have visited All 50 states, including at one time every city in the USA over 100,000 in population.

Foreign countries I have visited 79 as of your birthday and every continent except Antarctica. (Note: Dad did make it to Antarctica, and he fulfilled his lifelong goal of visiting 100 countries. He visited his 101st, Tunisia, less than six weeks before his death.)

Values and Beliefs
As a father, I tried to be

As a friend I try to be supportive and cheerful, give them honest advice when they ask.

My definition of a “good guy” is one who is loyal to family and friends.

I still like the old-fashioned ways of typewriters and Republican politics: the progressive era—Lincoln, Hiram Johnson, Warren.

My attitude about money in general is spend what you earn on worthwhile things, make many gifts to your children and charities, and don’t worry too much about the future.

A simple statement that sums up my attitude about life is stand up against evil dictators, live honestly, don’t take any guff.

A philosophy I’ve always lived by is do right by your family, love your children, defend the country.

Final Words
One of the best things about growing older is
having a lovely grandchild like you.

The most precious things in the world to me are my children, grandchildren, and good friends.

My hope for the future is
a more peaceful, secure world for you and your children. After all, you were born in a turbulent time. I hope you have a pleasant home, get a good education, find nice work, something professional, and meet a nice man to marry. Someday, later in the 21st century, you may be filling out a book like this entitled, “Grandmother Remembers.” Long life and good health.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Audio of Ken Reich Funeral

Many thanks to Larry Harnisch for taping the service and making this link available on his Daily Mirror blog on the LA Times website. He was one of dozens of great journalists who turned out to pay tribute to Dad.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Eulogy for our Father

Posted by Kathy and David Reich

My sister and I worked on this together, and we are so grateful that you are here today. Dad always loved a good funeral. He would come home from a funeral, call one of us, and proceed to give the funeral a review. So Kathy and I are really feeling the pressure to make this funeral a memorable one.

We’ve been truly overwhelmed by the incredible postings on his blog and the emails and phone calls. Many people have focused on Dad’s impressive accomplishments as a journalist. But just as many people have commented on what a proud father he was. Today I want to talk about our Dad as Kathy and I knew him.

Dad was, at heart, a great idealist, even a champion for social justice. In high school in the 1950’s, he would insist on having his Latino, African American, and Native American friends over to dinner, even when some of my grandparents’ friends were appalled.

Dad was in Birmingham on the day of the church bombings, and in Los Angeles the night that Bobby Kennedy was shot. These events shaped his thinking for the rest of his life. Maybe this explains why, in later years, he became passionate about helping disadvantaged youth—helping kids from around the country prepare for college, supporting college scholarships for kids at my alma mater, Grant High School, and helping young MetPro reporters succeed at the Times. I think Dad’s belief in social justice also explains why he, a Republican for most of his life, became so excited in the last months of his life about supporting Barack Obama for President.
Late in his career, when he approached his consumer column with such zeal, it was because he believed that someone had to stand up for common people contending with corrupt or inept companies. And it made a great impact on us when Dad waged spirited and courageous defenses of his fellow reporters and their trade while men with no knowledge of print journalism tried to run the Los Angeles Times like it was a cereal company.

Many of you have written that Dad could be cantankerous, irascible, and contentious. Let me add short tempered and choleric. But all of you have noted Dad’s other sides. As his son I received a fair share of groundings and other common punishments. But one of the things I liked is that they nearly never lasted long. Dad just didn’t have the heart for it. Although he could say mean things, Dad was not mean.

Dad knew he wasn’t the easiest person in the world to deal with, and as a result, he was unbelievably loyal and generous to his friends and family. As the oldest member of his generation in our large extended family, he was a major influence—not always for good—on his many cousins. He liked to tell us how he and his cousin Marilyn once spiked the Passover wine with vodka.

Dad collected friends throughout his life, in Palm Springs, at Dartmouth, at the Times, in his travels. In March he celebrated his 70th birthday in Palm Springs, and more than a dozen of his high school teachers and classmates attended the party. In 1968, on an around-the-world trip, he looked up a friend’s old pen pal in Bombay, and became close friends with him. In fact, the last email he sent was to this friend, A.S. Abraham. Once you were Dad’s friend, you were his friend for life. I think it’s an amazing testament to our dad that many of you here today knew and loved him longer than we did. The love and attention of his family and friends, especially his sister Carolyn and brother-in-law Lowell, truly sustained him over the last couple of years as his health was deteriorating.

But, as many of you noted, we always came first. Dad adored us from the start, but in our earliest years he wasn’t around as much. He was traveling for work, especially during the 1976 presidential campaign. But when my parents divorced a couple of years later, Dad insisted on joint custody, and he suddenly had us three nights a week and started taking us on his reporting trips.

He didn’t always know what he was doing as a father. He wasn’t a great cook, and he was terrible with doing things like assembling toys. My sister remembers some of those early days at Dad’s house. He got it into his head that good fathers read their children a bedtime story every night. The first story he read to Kathy was a horrific tale of an African farmer being tormented by a colony of killer ants. My sister had nightmares for weeks. Dad suggested that the best way to rid her mind of the killer ants was to read another book. He suggested Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

But the key thing with Dad was the unceasing effort and the obvious devotion and joy behind his parenting. Dad’s and Mom’s agreeing to joint custody was not common; most parents would not have done that. Dad’s habit of giving me ½ birthday cakes for my half birthday wasn’t normal either, but I really loved getting them.

Dad did some typical Dad things but he did them even better, like taking me to 25 Dodger Baseball Games a year, including the first game of the 1988 World Series when Kirk Gibson hit his historic walk off home run.

And Dad did some other atypical things to help raise us. Thanks to Dad, we grew up thinking that all children meet Presidents and dine with political leaders. He viewed the Olympic assignment as the greatest accomplishment of his career, and he made it a formative experience for us as well. Thanks to Dad, we had insider access to the Sarajevo and Los Angeles Olympics, and went on trips chasing the international Olympic committee around the world to India, Switzerland, Monaco, and Holland. And because he was a consummate newsman, we were always sure to be advised of the latest important headlines or the early exit polling in an election.
Dad always had our moral development in mind, instilling in us a sense of social responsibility. He stressed the importance of not just accepting the status quo. He taught us about civil rights and the political process even before we could read. My sister and I have both made commitments to public service in our lives, and Dad’s influence is one reason for that.
Finally, Dad was as obsessive about his grandchildren Abigail and Jonathan as he was about us. When Abby was barely a month old, he tried to convince Kathy that Abby was extraordinarily intelligent, constantly giving her elders what he called “an appraising look.” Last night, as Kathy and I were writing this eulogy, Abby, who is now almost 5, chimed in with a suggestion: “How about if you say, Papa Ken was a very, very good man.”

I’d like to conclude with one of Dad’s most important traits. He was always an optimist. His last published words were, “This is a bad time in the newspaper business, as it is, economically for the country in so many ways. But, I fully believe, brighter days will come, and we must do what we can to ensure that they do.” Dad, thanks to what you have given us, we and many of those you have touched will continue to do what we can to work for brighter days. We love you and we will miss you.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

LA Times Obituary

There was almost nothing that Dad loved more than a good obituary. He would have been deeply moved by the recollections of his colleagues, friends, and family in today's LA Times.

Kenneth Reich, 70; Times reporter covered effort to win '84 Olympics for L.A.

Monday, June 30, 2008

In Loving Memory of My Dad, Ken Reich

Dad and Abby

Dad and David at David's welcome home party

Dad with his grandchildren at the Palm Springs aerial tramway, March 1, 2008

I am deeply saddened to write that my father, Ken Reich, died early this morning at his home in Los Angeles. His passing was peaceful. His last hours were spent as he would have wished them--chatting with friends and family and posting to this blog. He sent his last email, to lifelong friends in India, at around 2 a.m., and then he went to sleep. His caregiver was unable to wake him this morning.

This was a terrible shock, although those of you who know my Dad know that he had been in failing health for several years.

When I get my thoughts together, I will write more about Dad--about what an amazing father he was, about what a committed and tenacious journalist he was, and about how, despite his many quirks, he endeared himself to literally hundreds of friends and family, from all over the world. Right now, it's all too raw for me. But I encourage people to leave their own thoughts and reminiscences on this blog. Dad would have loved that, and my brother David and I will take great comfort in reading your notes.

Dad's funeral will be on Thursday, July 3 at 2 p.m. at Mt. Sinai Hollywood Hills, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles. All are welcome.

Kathy Reich

Can L.A. Times Survive Zell, Michaels, Hiller?

(Readers should be aware that a series of six blogs about 75 L.A. Times staff members who have lost their jobs under the Tribune Co. precedes this one. It can easily be accessed by entering my name into Google and scanning down under the Take Back The Times entry).

It is not too surprising that a determination to resist the deterioration of the Los Angeles Times that has grown quickly out of the wrongheaded decisions and plans of Sam Zell and his colleagues should surface most clearly, for the moment, among anonymous bloggers. The bloggers are perhaps voices out of the news room who realize all too clearly what is happening, and are daring to try to stop it.

A blog known as "Save Our Trade" ( is floating a survey due July 15 asking a number of devastating questions about Tribune management, such as, what do the constant layoffs and other anti-employee actions have to do with the concept under which Zell used employee stock to take over control of the company, telling the hapless employees about to be terminated that they "owned" the paper?

Meanwhile, the TellZell blog ( is passing along a suggestion from someone at the Tribune-owned Orlando Sentinel that Times and other Tribune employees either call in sick on July 9, or conduct a byline-masthead strike for the editions of July 10. Tellzell has its own survey trying to determine whether employees think this is a good idea.

Of course, I certainly associate myself with these stirrings of action.

But the greater question at this point is, I believe: Can the Zell-Michaels plan for a "redesign" of the L.A. Times be stopped in its tracks?

We've already seen, at the Orlando paper, the dumbing down and tabloid aspects of the redesign of that paper. And although Tribune is saying there won't be a template on these redesigns for all Tribune papers, we cannot be at all sanguine about what redesign of the Times, and the promised drastic reduction in the number of its news pages, will mean.

I think there is every reason to fear that it would be a point of no return -- that no matter who came to own the paper in the future, it would be too late after the redesign, and too costly, to restore the paper to essentially what it has been since Otis Chandler became publisher in 1961.

Certainly our cherished national and foreign bureaus which have served the paper and its readers so faithfully, will, to a very great extent, fall by the wayside in a redesign. After all, didn't Zell rudely tell the Washington bureau months ago that he saw no reason it should have as many reporters as the Orange County suburban office?

And I was informed by a retired foreign editor just last week that he had been asked by Russ Stanton, the David Hiller-appointed editor of the Times, whether he felt it would be a good idea to abandon the Baghdad bureau of the Times and cover the Iraq war from afar. (Speaking of journalists serving the public interest, it takes a Russ Stanton to come up with an idea like that!)

Marjorie Miller (not my source) decided to step down as foreign editor shortly after that question was asked. She became only the latest in a long, depressing series of top-ranking personnel to leave their positions under the evil Tribune reign.

Would a redesign actually enhance local coverage and the Web site? I don't think so. Every time, a new step has been taken in the recent years of Tribune ownership, we have been assured that Metro (the California section) would have more more pages, or that the Web site would grow in offerings, timeliness and sophistication. Yet, none of these promises have been kept.

No, I think it is certain that a redesign would be absolutely devastating to the paper.

So, what can be done?

Every argument must now be made to Zell and the board of directors in Chicago that they should put such a radical retooling of the Tribune papers, and especially Times operations into abeyance until they have had a chance to consult with journalistic experts around the country to see how they think it would be received. (Virtually no one who has commented from outside thinks that Zell, Michaels and company know anything about the newspaper business).

Beyond that, the civic group of luminaries here in Los Angeles who first wrote then-Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons last year suggesting that, if Tribune wasn't willing to expend resources in Los Angeles, it sell the paper to someone who would, should become active again to push the demand that the paper be sold to local interests. This group represents the elite of the community. It is high time they show a little backbone.

It may well be that Zell is breaking the law, in some way, abandoning his fiduciary duty to the employee stockholders, by such a radical policy of changing his papers, which are already falling drastically in both circulation and ad revenue. A skilled lawyer might have to be retained to advise the employees whether it is possible to go to court to defend their interests.

Certainly, this is not the time to lose heart.

Now is the time to search for any means that will get the Times out from under the awful Tribune yoke, and bring to a halt the malevolent influence of Zell, Michaels, Hiller and other Tribune executives. Or at least delay them in their actions, until new rays of light begin to show themselves.

This is a bad time in the newspaper business, as it is, economically for the country in so many ways. But, I fully believe, brighter days will come, and we must do what we can to insure that they do.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

L.A. Times Roll of Honor, Those Who Left, 64-75

Today, I'm finishing up describing what happened at the hands of the evil Tribune Co. to 75 L.A. Times writers and editors who were at the newspaper at the wrong time -- long after the halcyon years of Otis Chandler, Tom Johnson and Bill Thomas. Without the benevolent protection and enlightened employment policies of these great journalists, they found themselves helpless, in many cases, to protect their livelihoods, and they were swept aside in successive waves of buyouts, induced buyouts and layoffs.

Yet to me, and I believe, as time goes on, to many others, they will be seen as heroes. They were a great group of people, putting out one of the finest newspapers in the country, and it was through no fault of their own that a tide of Chicago disdain and neglect came rolling into Los Angeles with the Tribune purchase and almost immediately set the paper off on a downhill course toward mediocrity. It was resisted for awhile by editors John Carroll and Dean Baquet, but eventually they were swept aside, and then the floodgates of Chicago sewage opened very widely.

Also, at the end here, I have a few comments about two of the most serious losses at the Times during the early Tribune years, those of Bill Boyarsky and Narda Zacchino.

Roll of Honor:

64. Rone Tempest. A foreign correspondent in the dangerous corners of the Middle East, then a writer in Northern California, he did many things very well. The Times was lucky to have him. But, as other foreign correspondents have found, Tempest discovered he had a hard time settling into what inherently was a less glamorous job at home.

65. Wendy Thermos. She was one of the reporters who pulled themselves upward by the bootstraps, gradually becoming a stronger writer, only to have her Times career cut short. Very much her own person, modest and unassuming yet having strong willpower. I liked and admired her.

66. Kevin Thomas. A proud movie reviewer for many years, he was suddenly told one day he had to take a buyout. He was not ready for retirement, and genuinely hurt that he was being ushered out the door. Later, he was able to write some reviews for the paper as a freelancer, but he still feels, appropriately, that he was very roughly and unfairly treated. I wonder, as he commands great layoffs at all the papers he now controls, whether Sam Zell ever thinks of the interests of the Kevin Thomases.

67. Mai Tran. One of the paper's first Vietnamese reporters, for a time the only reporter who spoke Vietnamese, she brought fresh perspectives to Orange County coverage. Again, this is the newspaper that once talked diversity, yet many of its most talented ethnic writers no longer have their jobs.

68. Sam Howe Verhovek. He has now reportedly left the New York Times too. For the L.A. Times, he was a national correspondent based in the Northwest, and also worked in other capacities, including, I believe, as the paper's architectural critic, always a difficult post to fill since many editors think little of the assignment.

69. Debora Vrona. An excellent Business reporter, aspiring upward. She is one of many losses of young, vigorous personnel that the paper has sustained.

70. Amy Wallace. For a time, an important writer in both Metro and Calendar.

71. Jenifer Warren. She was one of the most serious losses in the Sacramento bureau and statewide, because she covered the vital prison beat. California prisons had fallen into a terrible mess, overcrowded and often terribly inhumane to the prisoners and under the domination of a rapacious and irresponsible prison guards union. Warren was better at covering this story than anyone else. She has not at all been adequately replaced. She was yet another improving reporter, with her best years ahead.

72. Henry Weinstein. A reporter of reporters, he was one of the greatest Timesmen, but not only on account of his legal reporting and coverage of the death penalty issue, but also because he was an outspoken voice in the staff demanding that the paper always observe the highest ethical standards. It was Weinstein's vehement denunciation of those responsible for the Staples scandal at an open employees meeting that resulted in that blossoming as the issue that finally led to the ouster of Mark Willes and Michael Parks. Highly popular amongst the staff, he was disgusted when Sam Zell went to the Washington Bureau earlier this year and dismissed what its reporters did as inconsequential, Weinstein, as was characteristic with him, said so very plainly. I understand he has now been hired by the new dean of the U.C. Irvine Law School, Erwin Chemerinsky to teach there. They are lucky to have him, and the Times is extremely unlucky to lose him.

73. Robert Welkos. The author with Joel Sappell of the Scientology series, he was an able investigative reporter who worked both in Metro and Calendar. He wrote sensitively about a surgical operation he had had, and was a resilient popular member of the staff.

74 . Nona Yates. Long in the Times library and then a senior researcher in Metro and Business, she, like Tracy Thomas, provided valuable services. Unfailingly helpful. The kind of person a great institution needs.

75. Nora Zamichow. A distinctive writer of crime, military and other stories, she specialized in the long poignant, well-researched articles that used to mark the Times as a newspaper. One of the most eloquent writers in the business, with great moral sensitivity.

In closing out this series, I should also mention as great losses both Bill Boyarsky and Narda Zacchino. Both left the paper very early in the Tribune years when, after distinguished careers, they were left through bureaucratic shuffles with little to do. The Tribune Co. was never high on independent voices, and they were two of the best.

Boyarsky was an inspirational city editor. In fact, not since Bill Thomas was city editor in the 1960s do I think the City desk was any more distinguished than when Boyarsky and Tim Rutten were running it. It was their decision to pursue the Rampart scandal at the Los Angeles Police Department with major continuing coverage. But Boyarsky reached the highest point of a long professional life that had started at the Oakland Tribune (no relation to the Tribune Co.) and the Associated Press bureau in Sacramento, when he was called upon by the retired publisher, Otis Chandler, to deliver the message Chandler had prepared expressing revulsion at the regime of Mark Willes and Kathryn Downing and their roles in the Staples scandal. Though he knew this could get him into trouble, Boyarsky did not hesitate, and his reading of the Chandler letter to a crowded City Room was one of the greatest nights in the history of the paper. When Tribune overseers arrived, they ignored a University of Oregon citation to the Times staff for standing up heroically in the cause of journalistic independence in the Staples matter, and they quickly let Boyarsky know that, with the unpopular Miriam Pawel named as Metro editor, he would have little to do. Boyarsky left quietly, but has had a distinguished retirement as a teacher at USC, an author of a biography on Jesse Unruh, a member of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission and a writer for LAObserved and Truth.dig.

Narda Zacchino held many ranking positions at the Times before being foolishly passed over for editor of the paper in 1996 and subsequently being farmed out as an editor-at-large dealing with readers. Much at the Times might have been different had Zacchino been editor under Willes instead of Michael Parks, since, I believe, she might have been able to influence Willes in more constructive directions, and the Staples scandal and subsequent sale to the evil Tribune Co. would have been unlikely to occur. Zacchino spent six years as an editor of the San Francisco Chronicle upon leaving the Times, and is now the author of a book on the death in Afghanistan of Pat Tillman, the former professional football player.


One of the more repulsive statements of this year's presidential campaign was made against John McCain today on CBS's Face The Nation show by the retired Gen. Wesley Clark, when he denigrated McCain's military record and heroism in the Vietnam war. Clark, an ambitious man, was undoubtedly trying to curry favor with Barack Obama when he spoke with such prejudice and venom. Obama ought to cut him off at his knees.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

L.A. Times Roll of Honor, Those Who Left, 51-63

In this day and age, it's quite often the victims rather than the barbaric aggressors who ultimately get the most attention. That's the way it is in Darfur, in Zimbabwe, at Ground Zero in New York, and, in the corporate world at Enron, Carter Hawley Hale, and other firms that have been destroyed by skulduggery and incompetence.

The Tribune Co. is headed the same way as other failed enterprises, under the same kind of control, a loon and his band of crackpots and sleazes who think they can pare down the news offerings of their newspapers, devote a higher percentage of pages to advertising, and still retain their readership. They will get their comeuppance in short order, (the L.A. Times under the evil Tribune Co. is already down 400,000 in daily circulation) but one terrible thing about it is that their employees will lose their livelihood and be forced to find new jobs, working for hopefully more enlightened people. The other terrible thing is that a whole city and state, Los Angeles and California will lose the public service that a good newspaper provides, reining in both government and private excesses.

This week, I've been discussing some of the talented people at the L.A. Times who have already been induced to take buyouts, often in the midst of their careers, or simply been laid off. They are far better people, of course, than the skunks who got rid of them, and they are supposed to actually own the company, but they are actually at the mercy of the neanderthals. And this is not the end. Just yesterday, the Tribune toady in Los Angeles, David Hiller, spoke of new layoffs, and the editor he named, Russ Stanton, unlike his predecessors, is unresisting. Stanton entered into a Faustian compact, and now will have to live with it the rest of his life.

I've already discussed 50 of the former employees, as listed by the courageous internal Ask Zell blog. and today and tomorrow will complete the discussions of 74 I knew well in the 39 years I was at the Times. My aim is to demonstrate clearly just what Los Angeles has lost in the purges committed by the damnable Tribune Co. since it purchased the paper eight years ago. (Zell only came along last year, replacing the inept and prejudiced Dennis FitzSimons, who, as CEO, started committing mayhem against the Times).

Roll of Honor:

51. Ruth Ryon. An engaging reporter in the Real Estate section, she worked many years for Dick Turpin, a longtime real estate editor and educational writer at the Times, who will soon celebrate his 90th birthday. He was fortunate enough to retire before the axe began to fall on the better paid and/or elderly employees. Ryon was a conscientious reporter, but, like so many, she was forced out when Tribune started cutting, cutting, cutting.

52. Kevin Sack. Dean Baquet, who had known him at the New York Times and admired his work, brought him to the L.A. Times after becoming editor, to work in the Atlanta bureau. Now, he is back at the New York Times, as is Baquet. Sack, like several other Pulitzer Prize winners, was treated with disdain by the Tribune ignoramuses. Sack has won two Pulitzers. At the L.A. Times, he and Alan Miller, who as noted a couple of days ago has also left the paper, won one of them for exploring crashes by an unsafe U.S. military airplane. Now, both Baquet and Sack have been replaced by less experienced, less skilled and, not coincidentally, more poorly paid personnel.

53. Robert Salladay. One of the more competent reporters in the Sacramento bureau, he is one of several who have been ushered out, despite their valuable understanding of the faltering state government.

54. Joel Sappell. An editor in several important coverages, including the energy crisis in California that grew out of power company deregulation, he was shuffled off to the Web site when Tribune promised to improve it, only to find he had little company support for the improvements, which naturally would have entailed hiring more staff. Sappell, who would certainly have stayed with the paper for many more years, left disillusioned, and, commendably, said so. He will certainly be missed. He usually said what he thought, not a popular thing to do at the Tribune Co. In a high point of his Times career, he authored the series on Scientology with Robert Welkos.

55. Molly Selvin. An admirable editorial writer, stood always for the highest ethics and strongest principles. Unceremoniously dumped by editorial page editor Andres Martinez in a contemptible purge that also affected others, she wrote elsewhere on the paper for awhile, but then took a buyout. The kind of person who should never lose her job, and certainly not to a squalid boss like Martinez, who lost his own job later after committing sexual peccadillos.

56. Jube Shriver. A Business section reporter who was developing into a fine journalist, and earning a better salary, just the kind of person Zell and Hiller don't like.

57. Stephanie Simon. One of the stars at the L.A. Times from the time she arrived, and most recently, the Midwestern correspondent based in St. Louis. Her stories often were on Page 1, and she traveled widely on her beat. She's now with the Wall Street Journal. She concluded wisely there was not much future for talent at the L.A. Times. An exceptional person, a Yale graduate, she cannot be successfully replaced.

58. Bill Sing. As Business section editor, he improved the section within limits and was an intelligent editor. First kicked upstairs and later left. After years of loyal service, he was one of many who were mistreated.

59. Frank Sotomayor. Along with the late Frank del Olmo, he fought for years for better coverage of Latino issues at the Times, and to advance able Latino writers. Always under-appreciated, despite his educational attainments and humanity, he was eventually sent to the useful Metro Pro minority journalists program in its somewhat waning years under Tribune. I always felt badly for him, because he was able and intelligent and a fine editor to deal with. At a more reasonable place, he would have been more successful. It is the paper's loss that he was not.

60. John Spano. The brother of travel writer Susan Spano, he was an assistant Metro editor who worked hard and conscientiously. A good journeyman of the kind the Times could not afford to lose. Very careful. Maybe, his sin was he was too loyal. Loyalty is not appreciated at Tribune.

61. Bill Stall. A Pulitzer Prize winning editorial writer, after a distinguished career with the Associated Press in Sacramento and then with the Times, where he also served as political editor. Stall was terminated by the goofy editorial page editor, Andres Martinez, who, as mentioned above, ultimately lost his own job after committing sexual peccadillos. Martinez got rid of all three Pulitzer Prize winners on his editorial page staff. But Stall knows so much about state government that he still appears occasionally, and brilliantly, on the Op Ed page. His firing by Martinez was an utter disgrace, even more so because Martinez had been vying for the Pulitzer Stall actually won. It was a case of an inferior editor firing a superior writer.

62, Larry Stammer. An able reporter who undertook such thankless tasks as becoming a religion writer. Very knowledgable, he had been with the San Jose Mercury News in Sacramento before coming to the Times. He was also a skilled writer about politics. Very pleasant. Nice to have as a colleague, like so many of those who are now gone, were.

63. John Stewart. Long a copy editor on the National Desk, always interested in what was going on elsewhere in the paper. Very supportive and friendly.

All of these writers and editors, too, should be entered in the book of Tribune damnation.

Tomorrow: Rone Tempest, Wendy Thermos, Kevin Thomas, Mai Tran, Sam Howe Verhovek, Amy Wallace, Jenifer Warren. Henry Weinstein, Robert Welkos, Nona Yates, and Nora Zamichow.


The New York Times has a long story this morning by Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah about the imminent Taliban threat to take over the major Pakistani city of Peshawar. The rise of the terrorists of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan threatens U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and world stability as a whole. Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state, which would have to be destroyed if its nuclear weapons fell into terrorist hands. The L.A. Times is presently ably represented in this critical theatre of the War on Terror by Laura King.

Early this morning, the Associated Press reports that Pakistani armed forces attacked the terrorists outside Peshawar. There have been many such operations, few of them successful.


Another day of announced layoffs in the newspaper business. The freely-distributed Palo Alto Daily News will fire six of its staff and suspend publication on Mondays. Tne San Jose Mercury News announced nine more terminations, and is now down 63% in staff overall.