Dead-tree L.A. journalism update

Going into the weekend here is some follow through on the Times and Daily News situations:

  • LAT petition: In an email to the newsroom, Times investigations editor Vernon Loeb says staffers are supporting editor Dean Baquet with signatures.
  • Colleagues:

    Petition signatures have poured in from all over the world--the Baghdad Bureau, Beijing, Paris, Washington and all the national bureaus, Sacramento, Inland Empire, OC. In one day, 453 Los Angeles Times journalists have lined up behind Dean Baquet in his partnership with our new publisher, David Hiller, to keep the paper strong. Anyone who has yet to sign, please, please do so. The petitions now fill an entire table in the 3rd floor newsroom, and anyone on assignment, in a bureau or on vacation need only email me to add your name.

    Thank you all very much.

  • Tim Rutten: His Saturday column in the Times argues that much is at stake in the inner Tribune dispute over the size of the paper's staff:
  • To borrow a homey image from Henry Adams' agrarian America, the smart guys among our newspaper managers will not be the ones who eat their own seed corn simply to fatten themselves through another fleeting season.

    Whether newspapers belong to individual proprietors or corporate stockholders, the future and its profits will belong to those who are both socially responsible enough and financially hard-headed enough to carry what is indispensable about the present into the era now struggling to be born.

    Los Angeles will be one of the places where we'll eventually find out whether newspaper journalism's current distress is a birth pang or a death rattle.

  • Daily News union speaks up: The newsroom union's blog says threatened cuts are "serious business" but is more optimistic after talking to editor Ron Kaye late Friday. Sounds like any reductions will be shared across the Los Angeles Newspaper Group papers.
  • When the first post went up on LAO today, we heard LANG was seeking deep cuts, between 10 and 20 jobs spread throughout Editorial. I spoke with Ron and shared with him our concern that this would have a crippling effect on the newsroom's ability to put out the newspaper as well as a significant blow to morale. While sympathetic, he had little he could share and asked me to refer questions to Jim Janiga, who handles MediaNews' labor relations. The union began that dialogue this afternoon, though there's no news to share as of yet. Our relationship with Janiga has evolved from adversarial to fairly collegial in recent years, so we hope to continue that throughout this process.

    By the afternoon, however, the mood appeared to have shifted. Ron made his case to the LANG execs and came back seeming much more relieved. He said that there could still be some trouble ahead as the company looks for ways to cut expenses, but that the meeting had gone well and would hopefully produce more collaboration throughout the chain. While it was reported earlier that he was considering leaving over the issue, he told me that he felt that we could work through the rocky patch and still put out a product that we can be proud of.

    So as it stands now, the LANG folks are going to start crunching numbers and see the best way to continue. There could still be cuts ahead, but rather than just taking them all out of the Daily News, they're going to finally address ways to work better together.

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