Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bill Stall, A Pulitzer Prize Winner, Is Laid Off By His Runner Up

Written in San Carlos, California --

Bill Stall has been with the Los Angeles Times for 30 years, and in 2004 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his brilliant editorials on California issues.

But now Stall has been laid off by Andres Martinez, the Tribune's peculiar pick as editorial page editor of the Times. Oddly, Martinez was a finalist for the prize that Stall won when Martinez was still with the New York Times. Yet he traveled to Sacramento to tell Stall that Stall's position had been eliminated under the new staff cut backs ordered by the Tribune Co.. in the latest of its dishonorable acts against the Times.

So, this carries the Tribune jealousy over the Times Pulitzers to new heights. Now the loser in the Prize competition gets rid of the winner. And there are reports that at the very time Martinez was continuing the purge of the editorial page staff begun by Michael Kinsley, he was seeking to recruit more Easterners who know nothing about California.

Given the judgment he's shown as the successor to the unmourned Kinsley, Martinez would have done the paper more good had he eliminated his own position.

But, as it is, when Martinez arrived from the New York Times, he had three Pulitzer Prize winners on the Los Angeles Times editorial page staff. Now, after a year of squalid maneuverings, he has managed to send all three packing from the editorial pages. Bill Stall, Alex Raksin and Bob Sipchen.

Also newly leaving the editorial page is the able Sergio Munoz. encouraged to take a buyout. And, we just learn, Judy Dugan, a holdover from the better respected Janet Clayton days.

All told, it is approaching percentagewise the purge undertaken by Stalin of the Central Committee of the Soviet Commuist Party in the 1930s, when over a few years, 87 of the 105 members were sent packing. Most of those were either executed or sent to the gulag, while, of course, at the Times people only suddenly lose their jobs.

But the idea is the same. Through no fault of their own, talented, valuable people lose their jobs, simply at the whim of newcomers without regard for the real good of the institution.

One of the replacements, crazy as it may seem, is the nonsensical Joel Stein.

Andres Martinez could work at the Times a long time, if the Tribune losers stay as owners, without ever approaching the quality of Bill Stall's work. Replacing Stall with Stein is like replacing Shakespeare with Harold Robbins.

And, all these layoffs, remember. are unnecessary. Michael Hiltzik reminded us earlier in the week in his column in Business that the Times showed a profit approaching $200 million last year. Even a Wall Street firm last week, Lehman Bros., described the Tribune layoffs at all its papers as bad policy.

It's all a disgrace, to treat Pulitzer Prize winners this way, and worthy of the outrage it has generated among the Times staff, and contempt it was inspired elsewhere..


Blogger Howard said...

Keep whining. The Pulizer Prize is an award for whomever writes the most Left Wing bullshit for the longest time. I don't know anyone who thinks otherwise. The LA Times circulation has been sagging; does that register with you Pulitzer Prize clowns? It's sagging because you are out of touch with your "readership;" now restricted to the West Side, Beverly Hills, and the show biz Left. Nobody else reads it.

At my huge work place nobody under the age of 50 has the Times on their desk, with the exception of women, the only group still dumb enough to read it.

I know that nobody under thirty has ever read a Times Classified for anything other than possibly cars on Saturday.

The only chance the LAT has of "making it" is to fire every lying propagandist in the joint and start over.

11/29/2005 2:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading the article, I get the impression that you equate Pulitzers with quality.

Hasn't that been one of LAT's problems over the years?

11/29/2005 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Kit Stolz said...

If the Pulitzer Prize went only to "left wing hacks," then the right-wing editorial cartoonist at the Times (named Ramirez, if memory serves) wouldn't have one.

Some on the right-hand side of the political dial like to dismiss all achievement in journalism, especially print journalism, as a meaningless vestige of the distant past, but the founders of this country were not nearly so cynical. Without a free press, Thomas Jefferson pointed out, democracy fails. Maybe that's why so many on the right hate the press. It has the temerity to challenge the powerful, be they reckless sexual adverturers like Clinton or reckless military adventurers like Cheney. How embarrassing for the "my country, right or wrong" crowd.

As for the idea that no one under fifty reads the Times...they wish. It's not going anywhere: People still read. They said the Internet would replace the book; instead, selling books became one of the Internet's great success stories. Now the naysayers proclaim the end of the newspaper, but what blogger (left or right) has the time or the resources to report a story? The newspapers still set the national agenda. How inconvenient for those who would be ruled by idiots.

What's sad is that the Tribune's demand for a 20% profit margin (unheard of in most businesses) is damaging a once-great paper.

11/29/2005 11:56 PM  

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