Wednesday, June 25, 2008

L.A. Times Roll of Honor--Those Who Left, 13-26

I'm continuing today with describing the work and distinctive contributions writers who are no longer with the L.A. Times made to that newspaper, before they were encouraged or forced to leave by the evil Tribune Co. Examined yesterday were 12 writers. Here are another 14 in a week long series.

Roll of Honor (Continued):

13. Tom Furlong. A distinguished Business section writer, he was one of those who kept the section going at times when it wasn't very brave, restricted itself to covering mostly business and not consumer issues, and, occasionally, had weak direction. A journeyman reporter of the kind good newspapers can't afford to lose.

14. Jean Guccione. She represented the occasionally excellent suburban reporters who should have been brought downtown immediately to cover news for all of Southern California. From New Orleans originally, she worked for the Daily Journal, where she became a friend and admirer of Phil Hager, long an outstanding Times writer on the courts. Her own coverage of the legal system in the San Fernando Valley and beyond was superb. I understand she is now with the Los Angeles County D.A.'s office.

15. Bob Hilburn. His incomparable writing on rock musicians was long one of the most distinctive offerings in the Calendar section. Although he sometimes still contributes, the section is not the same without him writing every week. He is one of the nicest people in the business. Is there anyone who did not appreciate his many gifts to the paper? Admired greatly by my son, David, who met him and his wife, Kathy Barr, at Dodger games we all attended. Another person who should not have been let out the door.

16. Robert Lee Hotz. A highly talented science writer, and an esteemed colleague of mine in earthquake writing. He came to my rescue on quake coverage on occasions when my amateurism would no longer do, and teamed with me on a story the day of the Northridge quake that contributed to the Times winning a Pulitzer Prize. His series on the brain, and another series on Antarctica were among many distinctive contributions to the paper. Now with the Wall Street Journal, he is one of many reporters who no sane outfit, which Tribune is not, would have allowed to escape.

17. Shawn Hubler. An able reporter and sensitive columnist, her writings were a contribution to every edition she appeared in. The supportive and understanding wife of Bob Magnuson, an editor who was promoted and promoted, until he was unceremoniously kicked off the paper. She followed him to San Francisco and for a time wrote for the Times from there.

18. Don Hunt. He served as a weekend editor on the City Desk. Conscientious and friendly, he was the kind of supervisor who was appreciated, and the kind, unlike Noel Greenwood and a few other overbearing editors I can remember, who was modest and self-effacing, yet did a fine job.

19. Evelyn Iritani. An enterprising and eclectic Business writer, she brought a thorough understanding of Asian economics at a time when China was emerging as a world power. The kind of specialist a great newspaper needs terribly.

20. Connie Kang. Her humane and understanding reporting on the Korean community, an important part of Los Angeles city life, provided coverage that no other reporter could do nearly as well. How could Tribune Co. ever let her leave? Always friendly, she lit up the City Room.

21. Daryl Kelley. A longtime Ventura County edition reporter, he was one of the most talented members of a wide ranging suburban staff at a time when the Times had a huge suburban contingent. Allowing Kelley and many other suburban reporters to drop from the Times' rolls left it a poorer paper.

22. Johnny Mike Kennedy. A talented, brave correspondent of the newspaper in Lebanon, Iraq and other dangerous Middle Eastern locales, and an able writer in the Los Angeles office, Kennedy was the supportive husband of Becky Trounson, taking a leave and writing a novel in Jerusalem while she served there as a Times correspondent. Their daughter, Merit, studied Arabic, spent a year in Cairo, has just graduated from Stanford and looks forward to a career involving the Middle East. On the night, she was admitted to Stanford, and I told John Carroll, he remarked, acidly, "That will put them into the poor house." Later, Tribune Co. insensitively accepted Kennedy's departure, in a striking demonstration of ingratitude for brave past service.

23. Greg Krikorian. Honest, sometimes bluntly so, he wrote about terrorism and gave sympathetic treatment sometimes to those accused of such crimes. He and I did not agree on the Arab-Israeli issue, but I always respected him, and felt he showed great promise for a long career with the paper. Losing him was certainly not in either the Times' or the public's interest.

24. Lennie Laguire. How could I not like her, since she was the editor who first suggested that I write a consumer column, (that lasted three years before John Carroll killed it?) She had many different jobs with the newspaper, and to my mind performed well in each. She was imaginative, pleasant, fun to work for. A strong person. Losing a talent like hers was certainly not in the paper's interest.

25. Myron Levin. A dedicated investigative reporter for the Business section, he drove the tobacco industry nuts with his probing pieces on the dread addiction of smoking. Once he was on to something, he stuck to it single mindedly. Just exactly what a great newspaper needs, and can scarcely do without. He had a hearty appreciation for just what a scoundrel Tribune owner Sam Zell was, and did not hesitate to say so when he left.

26. Simon Li. A distinguished foreign editor, he served with great ability and perseverance until health problems forced him to step aside into a less demanding senior position. Later, he was a valued supporter of the difficult (because of overbearing Tribune supervision) managing editorship of Doug Frantz. A member of a prominent Hong Kong family, he brought to the paper an understanding of foreign affairs that was without parallel. (And he was a patient man, patient enough to listen to some of my own madcap views on foreign affairs). Good health or not, he was not the kind of editor the paper can afford to do without.

All these deserve favorable mention in the book of Tribune Co. damnation.

Tomorrow: Vernon Loeb, Claudia Luther, Eric Malnic, Tyler Marshall, Joe Mathews, Rick Meyer, Alan Miller, John Montorio, Solomon Moore, Dave Morgan, Lorenza Munoz,
and Sergio Munoz.


The news today that Sam Zell intends to seek offers for both the property in downtown Los Angeles on which the Los Angeles Times is located, and the Tribune Tower in Chicago, appears to be part of an ongoing plot by him and his fellow-executives at Tribune to sell off the company, and raid it for return of his $315 million investment.

The columnist Harold Meyerson suggested recently in the Washington Post that Zell be jailed for life. His policies amount to a lack of exercise of proper fiduciary control. He says this is an employee-owned company, but he is raiding it and killing it, with no real consultation with employees.


Maureen Dowd demonstrates again today in the New York Times why she is one of the most outstanding and sensitive political writers of the year, and certainly well attuned to the almost mythic (already) candidacy of Barack Obama. Her dissection today of Karl Rove's dismissal of Obama as an elitist is one of her best.

"Rove and company are nervous, because they see that Obama, in rejecting public financing, is not going to be a chump like some other past Democratic candidates," she observes.

The criticism of her by Clark Hoyt, the overly straight "public editor," or ombudsman, of the NYT, on Sunday showed only that Hoyt has insufficient respect for great journalism, or doesn't know what it is.



Anonymous another old fool said...

I take it this blog went up before today's news went out.

Zell's doing a liquidation sale of the Tribune properties. That's all there is to it. In retrospect, that's probably what the Tribune Company intended when they sold to Zell: liquidate the company.

"Take back the Times"? What's left to take back? It's going to be the Hindustan Times in a couple of years. The Field Hockey and Cricket coverage will be great.

6/25/2008 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your glib dismissal of the NY Times public editor's criticism of columnist Maureen Dowd Sunday conveniently overlooks the reason for his chastisement: namely her vicious and sexist criticism of Hillary Clinton's campaign for president. Dowd made the "hall of shame" among commentators using gender stereotypes to attack women, according to the National Organization for Women, a much respected women's rights group similar to the NAACP. You would have been included in any roll of dishonor had your loathsome Hillary bashing gotten any notice beyond your wretched rightwing blog. This reader will remember with disgust your picturing Sen. Clinton, who holds a law degree from Yale, as no more qualified than high school graduate Lurleen Wallace to be president. Shame on you.

6/25/2008 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is belated, but with all due respect to Ken -- who was a good reporter but utterly misinformed in this instance -- this blog contains an egregious factual error that should be corrected: Bob Magnuson, a veteran Times editor and longtime senior manager whom Ken mentions here, resigned from the LAT after the Tribune Co. took over the paper and made it clear that their long-term corporate strategy was to slash the paper's local news operation. No one fired him. In fact, he was asked to stay.

9/10/2009 11:01 AM  

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