Spring Street buyout notes

I received several reports that computer system troubles plagued the Times yesterday. A big chunk of the IT staff was laid off last week. Also, Orange County staffers are complaining about lack of heat in the cavernous and mostly empty Costa Mesa newsroom.

Senior editorial writer Judy Dugan did get the buyout and will be leaving soon. Editors in Calendar are hoping that film writer Kevin Thomas will contribute pieces after his imminent departure.

Marc Cooper alleges in today's LA Weekly that Publisher Jeffrey Johnson is "directly overseeing the staff massacres as well as micromanaging some of the dumber editorial moves," and calls the new op-ed lineup "a rotation of minor-league freelancers that one veteran editor disdainfully dismissed as 'the seven dwarves' — a lineup that includes dunderheaded screenwriter Joel Stein and squeaking cable-show performer Jonah Goldberg." Cooper's bottom line: "Come back Mike Kinsley...all is forgiven."

Retired Times reporter Ken Reich is also no fan of the Stein choice or opinion editor Andrés Martinez's decision to eliminate the Sacramento editorial writer slot filled by recent Pulitzer winner Bill Stall: "Andres Martinez could work at the Times a long time, if the Tribune losers stay as owners, without ever approaching the quality of Bill Stall's work. Replacing Stall with Stein is like replacing Shakespeare with Harold Robbins."

Steve Wasserman's take on the Times from Tuesday is getting a lot of comments at, as well as a response by novelist and former Times reporter Evan Maxwell posted at Patterico: "Wasserman’s piece on Scheer’s website today was a perfect example of the kind of high-toned leftist excoriation that has been loosed on the Times since Scheer was ousted. And it is a perfect example of the kind of political back-scratching that the leftists on the paper have engaged in for years. The two of them, Scheer and Wasserman, were instrumental in politicizing the newsroom, marginalizing the reactionary forces (meaning anyone to the right of, say, Tom Hayden) on the staff, and enforcing a kind of political solidarity that has so alienated a great many readers over the last two decades."

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