2006 in review

2006: Tumultuous Times

LAT by Edward FuentesDid the Los Angeles Times have a tough year or what? Lots of unhappy departures, speculations about a dark future and criticism aimed at the paper. There also was much top-notch reporting, from here and abroad. The biggest Times news will be rehashed later in our Most Clicked On stories of 2006. In the meantime, here are some other Spring Street twists and turns that LA Observed reported this year.

Sunday magazine: West debuted in February with an ambitious mandate from editor Rick Wartzman. He didn't last a year.

Moving on: Pop music critic Robert Hilburn led the list of long-time byliners who retired or moved on. Too bad about all that trouble with the farewell parties.

Joel Stein: The oped columnist pissed off, oh, a few million people who had never before heard his name with Warriors and Wusses, in which he explains why he doesn't support the U.S. troops in Iraq.

The Latino problem: Former Times staffer Daniel Hernandez picked at the scabs of the paper's tenuous relationship with Latino Los Angeles, spurring some reaction.

Fewer readers: Circulation dropped in both counts taken during the year. To ensure it doesn't come back, the bean counters gutted TV Times, put ads on section fronts and unveiled what may be the worst ad layout ever.

New looks: People are still getting used to the font-crazy front page, but the Sunday Calendar divide seems to have gone over easier.

Fading fast: Sports section #2 Dave Morgan jumped to Yahoo! then stole the Times' best baseball writer. Olympics writer Alan Abrahamson fled to NBC. New sports editor Randy Harvey tried muscling up and putting Times Staff Writer bylines on feeds from lesser papers, but still had to cut way back on coverage.

Thinking outside the box: Managing editor Doug Frantz orders up shorter stories and pony rides for everyone.

Investigating the UFW: Reporter Miriam Pawel spent more than a year looking at the United Farm Workers Union. She then left the paper unrelated to all the reactions and retraction demands, which the editors rejected. Upshot: AG Bill Lockyer cast serious doubt this month on many of the Times findings.

Oped spat: Historian Mike Davis and Oped editor Nick Goldberg exchange emails.

Coolest beat: Susan Carpenter rides motorcycles for a living.

For all the memos and personnel moves that didn't make the year-end cut, see the News & Chatter archive of posts about the Times.

Photo: Edward Fuentes

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