Friday was clean out their desk day for the editors, writers and other staffers who left the Los Angeles Times in the lastest wave of buyouts. (I'll update my list of the departing later this weekend.) Legal affairs writer Henry Weinstein, at 30 years possibly the longest-tenured journalist to exit, was a guest of Patt Morrison's on KPCC yesterday. (Audio) He bemoaned the continued weakening of the paper's journalism depth, but said he wanted to do some teaching and other writing while he's still young enough. Weinstein also pinned the arrival of Sam Zell, who seems to viscerally dislike and resent news gatherers, as a definite a factor in his leaving.
He treats his employees with utter contempt...when the owner treats his employees as dross, it's kind of mind-boggling.
We're losing some really top-flight people...a lot of accumulated knowledge of the city....The paper needs people who have a feel for the city....
It's not just this time. It's happened over and over and over.
Weinstein singled out Myron Levin, his reporting colleague on many stories about the tobacco industry, for special praise. Levin also zinged Zell in his exit email.
* Boyarsky's take: Weinstein covered City Hall when Bill Boyarsky was chief of the City-County Bureau for the Times. He writes, on his LA Observed blog:
He fires off e-mails to the staff demanding new ideas, trying to give the impression that the scattered and disparate employees are a single team, and he is their fiery, inspirational coach.
I don't know about Sam, but the Times doesn't need Viagra. It needs journalists who can go to work each day without worrying about looking for a new job or whether they'll wind up with any money in the Employee Stock Ownership Program that Zell used to buy Tribune Co.