Tuesday, June 24, 2008

L.A. Times Roll of Honor--Those Who Left , 1-12

Those who have left or were forced to leave the Los Angeles Times under the evil domain of the Tribune Co. will, I believe, be heroes, as time passes, and it is realized fully just what Los Angeles and California have lost by their departures. Many of them will surely go on to other outstanding professional endeavors.

But even now, it is worth inscribing them in a roll of honor. The valuable blog, "Tell Zell," has begun the work of doing this. But in the next week or so, I propose to continue doing so -- with a description of the work and distinctive contributions of about 75 of those who no longer are working at the Times.

Please pardon me for mistaken omissions. Some I do not know as well as others. Others I may not properly appreciate. I may add to those named later, and I hope, as I'm told, of their new jobs, to be able to list some of these new endeavors as well.

In the interest of keeping the individual blogs as brief as possible, I will discuss 12 former staffers a day, until I have gone through my list. Other daily developments will be added each day at the bottom of these blogs, or, if major developments occur, I may write two blogs a day, we'll see.

Roll of Honor

1--Alan Abrahamson. He covered the Melendez trial and later became Olympic correspondent for the Sports section, developing a reputation as one of the foremost writers in the world about the Olympic movement. He is now with NBC Sports, preparing for coverage of the Beijing Olympics. The Times Sports section is much poorer as a result of his absence.

2--Ricardo Alonso Zaldivar. He was an ever-improving reporter in the Times beleaguered Washington bureau, often covering airline disasters. Also, he was one of many minority reporters who unwisely have been allowed to depart, reducing the newspaper's diversity and depriving Californians of their wisdom.

3--John Balzar. One of the paper's most talented writers on a whole variety of subjects from politics to Alaska dog races to East Africa and the Rwandan genocide. A columnist and onetime U.S. Marine who warned presciently that we ought not to be too quick to invade Iraq. The loss of just one such reporter would be a calamity for the paper. Unfortunately, there have been many such calamities.

4--Dean Baquet. A courageous editor fired by that prime jackass, David Hiller, for defying Tribune plans to cut back both the staff and its quality. He coordinated many Pulitzer Prize-winning projects, and from his new post as Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, he has not hesitated to continue to speak out against the Tribune Co. and all the fools who lead it. He was my "Journalist of the Year" for 2006.

5--Glenn Bunting. A valuable investigative reporter for the paper, both in Los Angeles and Washington. Without such investigative journalists, the Times is no longer the great paper it once was.

6--Ed Chen. A tremendous asset to the Washington bureau in a variety of assignments, including the White House and presidential travel. Chen was born in Nanking, China, and was unusually sensitive, as one might expect, to the tyrannies of both Japan and China that laid waste to the rights of millions and were responsible for millions of deaths. Anyone who would let an Ed Chen go should be condemned unreservedly.

7--Janet Clayton. An outstanding reporter of city government, editorial pages editor and metro editor, she was, I am told, shoveled out the door in a bureaucratic maneuver of the kind so loved by the Tribune fools. She was replaced by a far more timid leadership, not nearly as able as she was and is.

8--Frank Clifford. A dedicated reporter and then farseeing environmental editor, he was so conscientious in his work that he wore himself to a frazzle. A Yale graduate and member of one of that elite school's Secret Societies, he also authored an excellent book on the West. To cut a career like his short stamps the Tribune executives as not only fools, but damned fools.

9--Mary Cox. A perceptive letters editor for the editorial pages, she worked hard to run a distinctive set of letters each day. One of many who seems to have fallen victim to the purges that marked the editorial pages under the unlamented leadership of Michael Kinsley and Andres Martinez, she left a void in the selection of letters that has not been filled.

10--Elaine Dutka. A writer for the old View section and later Calendar, she was an able writer and a friend and supporter during his illness of the late Art Berman, View editor. I did not know her as well as many others, but her absence has left Calendar less than it once was.

11--Sam Enriquez. An understanding city editor, an able and courageous Mexico City correspondent, he was one of many Latino members of the staff which any newspaper could ill-afford to lose. In Mexico, a most difficult place to cover, he did the kind of job which marked him as an outstanding reporter of the future. His Times career was unfortunately cut short.

12--Doug Frantz. Managing editor, he was left out to dry by the Tribune implant as editor, Jim O'Shea, who was finally himself fired by Hiller. Frantz is now at Conde Nast, but he continues his invaluable work on the threat of nuclear proliferation. Strong minded and fair, he was one of the losses the Times could least afford, and he was treated miserably by Tribune.

Tomorrow: Tom Furlong, Jean Guccione, Bob Hilburn, Robert Lee Hotz, Shawn Hubler, Don Hunt, Evelyn Iritani, Connie Kang, Daryl Kelley, Mike Kennedy, Greg Krikorian, Lennie Laguire, Myron Levin, and Simon Li.

Let the loss of all these wonderful writers and editors be laid at the door of the Tribune Co. May they be added to the book of its damnation.


The dramatic events in Zimbabwe, where a popular vote is being reversed by a bloody dictator, Robert Mugabe, were, appropriately, the subject of the lead article in the New York Times today, but rated only a reefer off Page 1 in the L.A. Times. It was yet another sign of the Times' loss of world view under a management dedicated to reducing the newspaper's foreign coverage.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect to those who are still there (and the remaining soul of The Times), wow, Ken, what a brain-drain.

That they have to answer to a Randy Michaels and Lee Abrams is a sick, sick joke.

Jeff Prescott, La Jolla

6/24/2008 3:35 PM  

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