Huffington Post splits into sections

"Still the same place, with the same address, the same mission, and the same attitude that has always made HuffPost such a great read," Arianna Huffington says in this morning's message from the boss. But there are five new Huffington Post front pages by topic — Media, Business, Entertainment, Living Now and Politics — and a fresh shared-content partnership with Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo.

In one of the featured blog posts, former L.A. Times labor writer Nancy Cleeland explains her side of why she took the buyout and is leaving the paper:

In my case, the decision grew out of frustration with the paper's coverage of working people and organized labor, and a sad realization that the situation won't change anytime soon....

It's awkward to criticize an old friend, which I still consider the Times to be, but I think the question of how mainstream journalists deal with the working class is important and deserves debate. There may be no better setting in which to examine the issue: The Los Angeles region is defined by gaping income disparities and an enormous pool of low-wage immigrant workers, many of whom are pulled north by lousy, unstable jobs. It's also home to one of the most active and creative labor federations in the country. But you wouldn't know any of that from reading a typical issue of the L.A. Times, in print or online. Increasingly anti-union in its editorial policy, and celebrity -- and crime-focused in its news coverage, it ignores the economic discontent that is clearly reflected in ethnic publications such as La Opinion.

Of course, I realize that revenues are plummeting and newsroom staffs are being cut across the country. But even in these tough financial times, it's possible to shift priorities to make Southern California's largest newspaper more relevant to the bulk of people who live here. Here's one idea: Instead of hiring a "celebrity justice reporter," now being sought for the Times website, why not develop a beat on economic justice? It might interest some of the millions of workers who draw hourly wages and are being squeezed by soaring rents, health care costs and debt loads....

The senior editors are not bad people. Like most journalists, they are in the business for the noblest of reasons. But in a region of increasing polarization, where six figure incomes put them in the top tier of the economy, they may not see the inequities in their own backyard.

[fast forward]

Leaving a newspaper that was once my journalistic ideal is harder than I'd expected. It feels, I suppose, like walking out of a long marriage that was once filled with love and hope, but grew stale. There is nostalgia and regret, along with relief and new energy. I know it's time to let go of the old dreams and move on to new ones. Already, the Los Angeles Times is becoming part of my past.

Cleeland was part of the team in Business that won a Pulitzer in 2004 for reporting on Wal-Mart's global reach. She left the labor beat in 2005 and has been a less-than-happy camper ever since.

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