L.A. Times talk

Who's leaving and other weekend buzz from inside our local downsizing newspaper:

⇒ Did Publisher Jeffrey Johnson kill an editorial that was tough on General Motors this week? Multiple sources pass along hearsay that he did. Here's one reason it would be interesting. Meanwhile: There is an editorial about auto industry woes in Saturday's paper.

⇒ Some names on the unofficial newsroom lists of the soon-to-depart: Sacramento columnist George Skelton [update: he decided to stay], movie reviewer Kevin Thomas, auto racing reporter Shav Glick, theater writer Don Shirley, religion writer Larry Stammer, ex-Metro Editor David Rosenzweig, editorial writers Judy Dugan, Bill Stall, John Needham and Sergio Muñoz, former LAT Magazine Editor Drex Heikes, Calendar writer Elaine Dutka, longtime Metro reporter Eric Malnic, longtime editor Frank Sotomayor, obituary crafters Claudia Luther and Myrna Oliver and Outdoors staffers Scott Doggett and Joe Robinson. Many opted for the buyout that was offered, some were pushed; now follows a week in which those who volunteered can change their mind (until 5 pm Monday), then the paper decides who else must go. Stall, based in Sacramento, reportedly got a visit and a nudge from Editorial Page Editor Andrés Martinez, which raised some eyebrows. Stall was the last Times editorial writer to win a Pulitzer Prize, beating out — yes — then-New York Times contender Martinez in 2004.

⇒ About 6,000 emails and calls came in to the Times about the decision to drop Robert Scheer's op-ed column, with "hundreds of long-time subscribers" saying they would stop buying the paper, according to a Readers' Representative report distributed to editors. Only about a hundred calls and emails protested the axing of cartoonist Michael Ramirez. Another hundred wrote or called about Robert Hilburn's pan of the Rolling Stones' concert playlist, and about sixty protested the cancellation of the Outdoors section.

⇒ By the way, Scheer is the featured guest at a Dec. 1 drinksfest of the Society of Professional Journalists' L.A. chapter at the Figueroa Hotel downtown.

⇒ Distinction magazine publisher Holly Bowyer got the word last week that she is leaving, say magazine sources.

⇒ The Times is also dropping its Student Journalism Program, started under former Editor John Carroll to help train high school and college students to get into the news biz.

⇒ When I interviewed LAT Editor Dean Baquet for Zócalo, he acknowledged that the paper would have to look at cutting back or eliminating the stock tables published in the Business section. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Times and the Tribune confirm they are starting to move that way.

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