Arax is news in Fresno *

Times reporter Mark Arax lives with his family in Fresno and has deep roots there — his 1996 book In My Father's Name investigated the failure of the Fresno police to solve his father's murder in the 1960s and chronicled the story of the Armenian immigrant presence in the area. So his public battle with LAT editors over a story about the Armenian genocide cracked the weekend Fresno Bee.

A well-known Fresno author and journalist is waging a heated battle with his boss at the Los Angeles Times -- a very public struggle that has outraged many in Southern California's large Armenian community.

It's also reverberating in Fresno, not only because of the sizable local Armenian population, but because Times staffer Mark Arax lives here and is of Armenian descent.

"People I talked to locally are really upset," said Varoujan Der Simonian, executive director of the Armenian Technology Group, a Fresno-based nonprofit that provides support for Armenian farmers.

Arax's name is pretty much number one on the speculative lists of probable buyout takers circulating in Times newsrooms. Others frequently mentioned with the deadline looming are former Business Editor Bill Sing, Moscow correspondent David Holley, Seattle correspondent Sam Howe Verhovek, West magazine refugee J.R. Moehringer and L.A. reporters Glenn Bunting, Chuck Philips, Ralph Frammolino and Gary Cohn. Staffers have to commit by Monday, and some are receiving more unofficial encouragement to take the offer than others. Also, Kevin Sack, who came in the Carroll-Baquet era, is said to be returning to the New York Times in Atlanta.

* Making a decision: Philips emails that he's staying: "I've got scoops in the pipeline."

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