Times Sports takes major hit *

Cost-cutting has come to the Sports section at the L.A. Times. In a memo to his staff received by L.A. Observed, sports editor Bill Dwyre doesn't sound pleased at the features he has to lose to publish the thinner section his bosses want. Several familiar landmarks in the section — such as weekend TV listings, the fish report, some football box scores and stories, the daily soccer report — are going away or gone; he anticipates a big reader backlash at the end. [ * Chatter: Lots of talk about the LAT cutbacks at, at and on local sports talk].

Dwyre's memo follows:

To Sports Staff:


(These are effective immediately and seek to reach our mandated goal of a 14-page weekly reduction in the sports section. We have already implemented 33% cut in prep coverage, plus one-half page a day through baseball box editing and baseball page design repackaging. (If the hockey season resumes, we will have to find 6 more pages of cuts).

--Eliminate daily USC and UCLA football notes. (Looking forward, same plan for UCLA and USC basketball notes, King and Duck notes, and Clipper and Laker notes. Baseball notes packages are excepted. This is not an excuse to get beat on your beat reporting. But rather than having guaranteed space every day, you will have to report your way into the paper. We expect a daily call or calls to day editors to discuss what you have and what we can do with it.)

--Eliminate the weekly college football logs.

--Eliminate the pro football logs.

--Eliminate daily insider coverage of Los Alamitos racing. Will continue short advances and game stories on the half-a-dozen million-dollar races they have each year.

--Eliminate staff rankings in national beat columns that currently do them: NBA, NHL, College FB, College BKB, Tennis.

--Eliminate Saturday and Sunday TV listings in the Friday paper. We will look to run short highlights of top events either as a box with the TV column or within the pro and college football coverage.

--Eliminate daily soccer report (has been gone for awhile; this will make that permanent. Soccer coverage will go in newswire or be a separate as warranted, but no more rail treatment as it will not be a standard coveerage element).

--Eliminate Friday page of NFL advance capsules. (We will do a shorter version of approximately 20 inches).

--Change from full results summary style to linescore and scoring summary style for local college football (University of LaVerne, San Luis Obispo, etc.) We should use the wire versions available to us if they move in time, rather than retyping off faxes).

--Eliminate the fish report (effective paper of Monday, Sept. 13, to allow us to contact the various landings so they aren't calling us with information we no longer take.)

--For WNBA, run it like the MLS on agate pages: standings, full Sparks box and scores only on rest of the league.

--No more Big Ten football box scores; just top 25 games and all Pac Ten.

--Reduce Saturday letters to two columns from three.

--No longer separates on each NFL game in Monday's paper. Run AFC, NFC and interleague play roundups, and separates as warranted. Space for NFL coverage will be cut from about 4.5 pages to 3 in the Monday paper.

--All national beat specialty columns will now be limited to 25 inches, except for baseball, NBA, NFL and college football. College basketball will be revisited once the college football season and column expire.

--Eliminate the weekly Pac Ten college football column.

These cuts will likely produce a high volume of reader complaints. We need to log these complaints so we can monitor the effect on our section. Direct all emails to YYSPEDITOR. For phone calls, take a message of the complaint and send it to YYSPEDITOR. For those persistent phone complaints that can't be satisfied and wish to assign blame, usually to the person who answered the phone, we have set up extension 75710 as the number to transfer those callers. The audix greeting on that extension will indicate that a supervisor will hear their message and take action where necessary.

Bill Dwyre

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