Pep talk from LA. Times editor

Russ Stanton just emailed the staff saying the total number of Los Angeles Times editorial staff departures has stopped at 135 instead of the 150 originally threatened. Fewer pages are also being lost, he says. He goes on to posit that the Times has "the biggest local report anywhere in the country," but it's unclear what he is counting. Even much of the California section coverage can hardly be counted as local. He does not address the widespread belief in his newsroom that more and perhaps bigger staff cuts are already planned.

From: Stanton, Russ
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 3:15 PM
Subject: Newsroom update


A few weeks ago, we announced that we would be losing 150 of our newsroom colleagues and reducing the number of pages we printed by 15%. The announced layoffs are now concluded, and we are losing fewer colleagues (135) and fewer pages (14%) than initially forecast. The process has been painful, and we've had to say goodbye to too many good friends and co-workers.

Our challenge now is to focus on the tasks at hand -- to break stories online and in the paper and continue putting resources toward the in-depth investigative reports that we're known for. This week, we have magnificent examples of both: Within hours, more than 300,000 readers turned to us for information about the quake. And the excellent Wildfire series is a great reminder of what we're capable of -- wonderful storytelling, brilliant documentary photography, video and graphics, and dazzling design, in print and online.

In addition to the Olympics and the political conventions, in the coming weeks we'll be delivering a terrific series of projects on the drug war on the California-Mexico border, a look at wealth in Southern California, the region's broken healthcare system, the issue of race in the presidential campaign and corruption in China. And today, senior print and Web editors met to start planning the integration of the two newsrooms, a move we hope to complete by the end of September. Your exemplary work shows why the Los Angeles Times remains a vibrant and integral part of both Southern California and the nation. By doing what we do best -- providing our readers with first-rate news, analysis and features -- we will ensure that they have access to the information they have come to expect from us.

Even at our smaller size, we are running at least 10% more pages than the New York Times and at least 25% more than the Wall Street Journal, two outstanding papers. In addition to the Wildfire series and the biggest local report anywhere in the country, this week we've also brought you news and features from China, Cuba, El Salvador, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Macao, Mexico, Pakistan, Serbia, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and, yes, even Olathe, Kan. And it's only Wednesday. Only two other daily papers in America even attempt this kind of reporting any more, and neither is within 2,500 miles of here.

While we may be fewer in number, we must not be diminished in spirit or sense of purpose. In the coming weeks, the senior editing team and I will be meeting with you in small groups to talk about how we move forward. It is your passion and your commitment to this news organization and to one another that will keep us moving in the right direction. The Los Angeles Times and our readers deserve nothing less.

Russ Stanton
Los Angeles Times

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