New layoffs at Times

Scott Martelle, who has been covering the presidential campaign for the National politics desk, sent an email this afternoon to L.A. and literary contacts informing them that he got tapped on the shoulder today. Also, blogger Patterico posted a list of Opinion staffers who are leaving according to Tim Cavanaugh, the web editor on the editorial pages who was himself laid off. Here's an excerpt of Martelle's email:

Well, by now you've all read about the transitions in the newspaper business, and many of you know of the peculiar troubles facing the LA Times. As a staffer, I liken it to dancing on a southbound iceberg. Unfortunately, my little corner of the iceberg just melted. Got laid off today, effective in September. It's a bit disconcerting to be told you're expendable, especially after a solid evaluation and a healthy merit raise in the midst of an historic presidential campaign (my current assignment), but these are strange times indeed. If there can be a silver lining, I'll have some time to devote full energies to the current book project. But on the whole, I'd prefer to continue committing journalism.

Martelle is the author of last year's "Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West" (Amazon) and recently sold "The Fear Within," billed as "a detailed recounting and analysis of the Foley Square Trial, a little-known Communist witchhunt that preceded and in many ways influenced the Red Scare that followed." Before this campaign, Martelle had covered the literary beat and done other features for Calendar. He was hired in the Times' Orange County edition in 1997 and has covered, among other stories, post-war life in Kosovo, the California recall election in 2003 and political campaigns in California and nationally.

The departures from the editorial page include Washington-based editorial writer Sonni Efron, who resigned to pursue other opportunities, and Swati Pandey, a young editor who is moving to the Business section. According to Cavanaugh and Patterico, the others are layoffs.

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