Morale at the L.A. Times dropped a few more notches this afternoon on reports that the New York Times has grabbed three valuable names off the writing staff. Newsroom sources say that architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, film critic Manohla Dargis and music business reporter Jeff Leeds all jumped to the other Times. Ouroussoff will take over the NYT's architecture beat from Herbert Muschamp as speculated earlier this week. Dargis will become a film critic based in Los Angeles, possibly sharing the lead critic chair with A.O. Scott. Leeds confirms his news and says that he will be covering the recording industry from the Los Angeles bureau after an orientation stint in New York. They may not be the last to leave, since according to newsroom sources other L.A. Times staffers have received recent feelers from NYT editors.
On the ball: The LA Weekly's Nikki Finke, in a web-only story under her "Deadline Hollywood" banner, also has the departures and calls the raid "full-on war" between the papers. She also has the news that the NYT is looking to hire a film editor and a TV editor.
Previously on L.A. Observed: LAT health writer to NYT, Flaste leaves LAT for New York Times
Edited 7:30 p.m.