Reporter 'simply lost hope' in LAT

Environment writer Marla Cone, a former president board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, sent an email to the members explaining her exit from the Los Angeles Times. Example:

I will be leaving the Los Angeles Times in mid-August after volunteering for the buyout. I cannot give many details now, but I soon will be heading up an enterprise that believes coverage of environmental issues must grow, not shrink.

After 30 years at newspapers, including 18 at the Times, I simply lost hope. The Times is in disarray, and I no longer believe it can pursue its mission and serve its readers well. I leave with great excitement about my new role, but also with almost unbearable sadness. I still believe that newspapers are one of the greatest institutions that a Democracy has.

Coincidentally, I was in Chicago last week with my family....I walked into the historic Tribune lobby while I was there, and looked up at the great quotations on its walls. I was instantly overwhelmed with the feeling that I was abandoning something special, something that was so good, so honorable, to its very core. I realized my heart was breaking....I hope that my volunteering to take the buyout spared someone else the pain of being laid off. But none of us can be confident that there isn't more bad news to come.

To all of you still covering environmental issues at newspapers, hold on as long as you can. Despite what Zell says, you are providing a priceless public service and the world needs you. If I thought newspapers were just a business, I would have left a long time ago. Newspapers will reinvent themselves. It will just take time. I wasn't willing to wait.

Last night I mentioned the loss of environmental reporting depth at the Times. I should have included the exit of Deborah Schoch, a former Nieman U.S. Environmental Fellow at Harvard and past VP of the Society of Environmental Journalists who most recently was a general assignment reporter with an enviro bent.

Primary sources: Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, cites declines at the Times as one reason he now writes a blog: "Since I first started working at Heal the Bay 20 years ago, newspaper media has been experiencing a slow and painful death. The first casualty was the Herald Examiner, followed by The Outlook, The Reader, and now the slow dismantling of the once highly respected Los Angeles Times. Now, it is nearly impossible to get a newspaper to run an investigative piece on the environment in LA, let alone cover the day to day decisions that continue to erode our local quality of life." Emphasis added.

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