'Profound malaise' at L.A. Times

That's how one staffer describes the mood around the Los Angeles Times offices, where editors were believed to be working last night on their final lists of staffers — 150 or possibly more — expected to get downZelled starting almost immediately. Bullet points from 1st and Spring streets:

  • Many in the newsroom believe the next publisher will be Timothy E. Ryan, publisher, president and CEO of the Baltimore Sun and a Tribune circulation guy by previous experience. There has been no announcement regarding incumbent David Hiller, but everybody seems to expect one soon. He was on vacation when Sam Zell and Randy Michaels showed up this week.
  • Editor Russ Stanton, in his Wednesday Tuesday appearance on "Which Way, L.A.?" on KCRW, described these cuts as almost all muscle, not fat. Only the most pollyanna (or ideological) of LAT critics can argue that removing in one swoop more journalists (by half) than work at the entire Daily News can be good for L.A. journalism — from a paper that has already shed more than twice that number of staffers. And — d'oh! — the Times is already criticized more than ever for being light on depth, reporting smarts and local savvy. Yes you can put out a good paper with 700 staffers — but not a better paper than the one paying customers are already fleeing. Only a lesser one.
  • Stanton also said on KCRW that on the list of reasons that ex-readers give for dropping the Times, "too liberal" ranks 4th — and "too conservative" ranks 5th.
  • Apparently the last standalone Sunday Book Review-slash-Opinion section will run in the Times on July 27. After that, books coverage will be in Calendar and Sunday's opinion pieces will run in the A section — and on the web. We reported Wednesday on other sections ending sooner.
  • You know those supposedly random inspirations and ideas that Lee Abrams says have struck him since he became the Tribune's designated innovations hitter? Some of the upper-case thoughts that Abrams sends out every few days appear to be recycled...from an earlier self. does the comparing.
  • As LAO reported Monday, two of the Times' top local investigative reporters, Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein, will join the nonprofit ProPublica. It's official now. They are the the team that finally blew the lid off the deaths at King/Drew Medical Center.
  • Meanwhile, managing editor Davan Maharaj sent out an email congratulating Metro staff reporter Sam Quinones "for winning the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean. The Cabot gold medal is the oldest international award in journalism and honors journalists who have furthered inter-American understanding. Sam was recognized for his vast body of work on Latin America. That includes his two books and his pieces for radio, television and newspapers. Many of those stories appeared in the LA Times..." Quinones' website.

Also, media and newspaper analyst Ken Doctor blogs, "the saga of the Times has been one of the more remarkable of the last decade and may be one good, if inconvenient, poster child of the debacle."

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