L.A. Times legal affairs writer Henry Weinstein, in New York to pick up his John Chancellor Award, dropped in on lefty Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" for a chat with hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Weinstein is a fan of the show, it turns out.
As a regular listener to the show in Los Angeles and a longtime supporter of Pacifica, I'm very -- it's very good to be here. One of the first things I did when I moved to Los Angeles was to help put on a big fundraiser for Pacifica at the Los Angeles train station, where we honored the great journalist Carey McWilliams. So it's particularly nice to be here today, particularly at a time when, as you were talking about, the situation for -- a lot of dark clouds over the media these days. A lot of dark clouds....
JUAN GONZALEZ: Could you talk a little bit about what is the mood right now at the Times' staff?
HENRY WEINSTEIN: Well, I think that people were very angry about the fact that both our publisher and then, just last week, our editor, Dean Baquet, were shown the door. You know, sometimes when an executive gets fired, it's because he's failed to perform a good job, or there's been some ethical lapse. Here, it was just the opposite of that. Dean Baquet has done a great job as an editor of the paper. You know, he was the managing editor or the editor over the past six years, a period where the Times, despite cutting 250 editorial staffers and having its marketing budget slashed, the paper won 13 Pulitzer Prizes.
Basically what he was shown the door for was drawing a line in the sand about staff cutbacks. And the reason he was drawing a line in the sand was because he's concerned that if the size of our staff is reduced, it's not going to be just a matter of job reduction, but it's going to mean that we are going to reduce the number of stories we're doing, and that's going to be a detriment to the community end and the people that read us online around the world and around the country.
Weinstein says that at Baquet's going-away party at the Times last week, sports columnist Bill Plaschke used the analogy that Tribune had demanded that Baquet cut his shortstop, right fielder and first baseman and play with six guys.