Leaving the newspaper biz

When Dean Hill began as a reporter for United Press International he watched the construction of the downtown state building's parking structure outside the bureau window. More recently, he watched the same building be razed from his perch on the computer help desk at the L.A. Times. His job was eliminated, so he's heading home. An excerpt of his exit email circulating around the Times, including some observations of downtown, follows.

For a more colorful glimpse of L.A. media life, there's the exit email sent around by a departing Harvard-trained assistant at William Morris:

I will miss introducing myself to Jim Wiatt at the 2005 WMA Christmas party and Jim responding that he recalled seeing me unshaven on October 16th of that year. I will miss Ian Aroughetti holding my hair back at the 2006 WMA Christmas party in the wake of my immature and unbridled exploitation of the open bar. And I will miss Aaron Reed selflessly driving me all the way back from the Cabana Club that night to Santa Monica stopping every 5 minutes along the Sunset Strip for me to puke my guts out....

Here's some of Hill's email:

From: Hill, Dean
Subject: After 40 years in this business..."So long and thanks for all the fish"

Friends and colleagues,

Friday will be my last day at the Times after 24 wonderful years, and as I head toward Union Station on foot in the afternoon, I will also be ending nearly 40 years in local journalism (nothing spectacular, but I hope at least workmanlike and professional).

I won't be retiring. My job was eliminated, but that's OK. The timing is perfect, and now I am looking forward with great anticipation to the adventures God has in store for the next phase of my life.

Please forgive my conceit at sending this message but before I left I wanted say thanks to all of you who I have known, worked with and helped in some measure along the way.

(NOTE: I also apologize to anyone who gets this message and wonders who I am and if this is spam or a cleverly disguised scam to access your bank account. Feel free to delete it.)

Interestingly, I don't seem to have gone far in these past 40 years.

In the Fall of 1967, I took a reporting job at the LA Bureau of United Press International, which was across the street at 205 S. Broadway on the 6th floor. During my three years at UPI, I helped cover some exciting stories, but I also got to watch the State of California build a parking garage at the corner of 2nd and Broadway.

I mention the garage only because after I made stops at the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the Daily Breeze in Torrance and The Register, I joined the Times in Orange County in July of 1983 and when I finally got back to downtown, I got to watch that same garage being torn down because of quake damage.

Because I worked downtown in 1967, I also got to see Angels Flight in operation in its original 2nd Street location, before it was mothballed for several decades and eventually rebuilt two blocks to the south at 4th Street, only to end operations a short time later after a tragic accident.

I figure I'm also probably one of the few people left around here who ate at the Blue Cube when it wasn't blue and was called Husky Boy and actually WAS a small, cube-like structure in the parking lot along 2nd Street. It had a counter with a few stools and featured greasy burgers and a salty old fry cook with a pencil-thin moustache. And it had long lines of folks in suits at the lunch hour.

The past nine years I've been on the LA Times Helpdesk trying to help you with your computer problems. When I couldn't help, at least you and I could agree that it's all Bill Gates' fault.

(One interesting tidbit: The first calls I took on the Helpdesk were on the morning of Aug. 17, 1998; tomorrow is Aug. 17. Go figure.:-)

I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me work with you or serve you in some capacity during these years and for being gracious and generous despite the severe stress you might have been under at the time. (Oh, there was one guy who yelled at me on occasion, but I yelled back. We're both Irish, and I consider him a friend.)

I will miss you all.

When I first started at UPI, I set a goal that some day I would work for the Los Angeles Times. The Square was like Yankee Stadium to me (a life-long Yankee fan) and I wanted to be part of the great team that worked there.

I mention that only so I can offer this word to you, my friends:

Despite all that may have happened around here in recent months, you all are still the core of a great team and I'm proud to have been small part if it. I expect you will continue to produce wonderful journalism and I remind you to take the following phrase to heart: Illegitimi non carborundum.

(Note To Mac Outlook users: links are below that you can copy and paste into your browser.)

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent LAT stories on LA Observed:
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
Why the LA Times' new theater column needs a new name
Helping in Houston, new lion cubs, Garcetti's back
Memo: New LA Times publisher drops web widget
Warren Olney leaving KCRW's radio lineup
LA Times purge 'capped a month of newsroom turmoil'
As the L.A. Times turns ...


LA Observed on Twitter