Friday, January 13, 2006

Dave Morgan, Eric Malnic And Other Departures at L.A. Times

In another of a series of departures at the L.A. Times, the move of Dave Morgan, the number two to Bill Dwyre in Sports, is particularly significant.

Morgan is taking a job as executive editor for Yahoo Sports, rather than stay around to succeed Dwyre when he retires in a few years. In a heartfelt note to the staff, Dwyre paid tribute to Morgan's many abilities and described the Yahoo job as an important one, which it is.

Morgan, it can be said, was one of the best liked editors at the paper. He has always had a sense of style, was easy to work with, and highly intelligent.

It could well be that Yahoo and Google will, in the years ahead, buy some of the great newspapers. It would certainly make sense for Yahoo to buy the Times, because it could then use its strong foreign and national staffs to market a more professional news product around the world. This is a to-be-hoped for outcome of the Times' bad situation now, when it is in the hands of professional inferiors in Chicago. There would be many synergies in such a move, in advertising as well as news.

So, when skilled professionals like Dave Morgan go to Yahoo to further develop its sports product on the Internet, they may, in the long run, be coming back to the newspaper business in important positions. I hope so. Yahoo is based in Santa Monica, so Morgan is not leaving town.

Other departures from the Times this week have been in the nature of buyouts, and some of these folks, like Eric Malnic, Daryl Kelley and David Rosenzweig, are retiring. A reception was given for them at the paper, and Malnic's speech there was widely lauded. Eric will particularly be missed for his excellent coverage into the cause of airline accidents, and he contributed to the paper in so many ways.

Some of the other departures honored, such as Nora Zamichow and Wendy Thermos, possibly Larry Stammer, are too young to stop working in paid capacities.

The other day, at the Bill Robertson memorial at City Hall, the federal judge Stephen Reinhardt made the point to me that every time men and women of knowledge and caliber leave the Times, the paper loses institutional memory and is diminished. That has certainly happened in the layoff and buyout process, and despite the fact the Times has already hired some replacements, it's not going to be the paper it was.

The Tribune layoff-buyout process was designed by executives and lawyers in Chicago as mainly a cost cutting move, getting rid of higher-paid workers with the aim of replacing them, if they are to replaced, with lower-paid ones. This is the essence of corporate America these days, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It is part and parcel of the ongoing cutback in pension and other benefits as well, which is diminishing the quality of this country.

Those who designed the scheme are bad people, dishonorable people, and there is no reason to pretend otherwise. And if Times circulation continues to sink, the process will be repeated in the future.

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There are few writers in American newspapers more eloquent, with more of a sense of good taste, than Michiko Kakutani, the senior book reviewer for the New York Times.

This morning, in reviewing "At Canaan's Edge," the last in the biographical trilogy about the life of the late great civil rights leader, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Taylor Branch, Kakutani ends with a long quotation from the conclusion of the speech King delivered in Memphis the night before he was assassinated. This was one of the great speeches in American history, and it was moving to read excerpts again this morning in the Kakutani review.

As Kakutani writes, "In the famous speech he gave...King put aside his own doubts and fatigue, cast off threats against his own life, and rallied the crowd to the cause he had taken up so many years before...

"Well, I don't know what will happen now," he said. "We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop and I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity as its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will, and He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight; I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

How dramatic and moving it is to read those words, each time we see them.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Readers need to know that Reich actually is a secret agent for a wide variety of subversive, tree-hugging animal-rights groups bent on taking over the Times. This blog is a clever ploy to sniff out responses from those opposed to the plot. Do not be deceived!

1/16/2006 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, that's silly. Obviously you haven't read any of the writers he spoke of. They are great writers. and, it can therefore be assumed that the editor he speaks of is also a great talent. What do YOU think happens when there is a mass exodus of talent? it leaves mediocrity. I've actually found that I don't read the L.A. Times much these days; there are usually better written, better edited articles everywhere else.

9/11/2007 9:11 PM  
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