Another exit from the L.A. Times

Houston bureau chief Miguel Bustillo jumps to the Wall Street Journal. He is a product of the LAT's once-lauded minority intern program. His exit email to the staff wonders why in hell the Times voluntarily gave up its presence in the Valley and in Ventura County, "the biggest strategic mistake this paper ever made."

From: Bustillo, Miguel
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2008 2:26 PM
Subject: Farewell

I realize these goodbye messages have become so depressingly common that they have lost all poignancy, but after 15 years at the paper I feel the need to write one anyway, as I head out the door to a new adventure.

I want to thank all the editors and reporters who have helped me grow as a journalist and a person since I began here as a Metpro in 1993. From the Ventura and Valley editions to Sacramento, Los Angeles and most recently, National, I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful people. Many no longer grace this newspaper's pages, but I will always remember them as LA Times colleagues.

I was fortunate enough to work on a lot of memorable stories. But the one that will always resonate in my mind was the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. I was 22 at the time, just starting out. The Valley edition was treated like a minor league affiliate by some of the more pompous denizens of Times Mirror Square. But on that day, the Valley newsroom rose to that challenge like nothing I've seen before or since. It was magic, and as I played my small intern's part in the reporting that day, I knew I had made a good career choice. That Pulitzer was richly deserved. Some of the stringers who contributed to that coverage are among this paper's best reporters today.

I will never understand why the LA Times pulled back from Ventura and the Valley. That was the biggest strategic mistake this paper ever made. I bet anyone who worked in those places, covering local news like I did, would agree.

I will always be grateful for the oppportunity the LA Times gave me. Thanks.

After the jump: Farewell messages from Times veterans Kathy Kristof and Stu Silverstein, whose departures were delayed until this week.

Kristof has been a columnist and reporter in Business.

From: Kristof, Kathy
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2008 2:31 PM
Subject: luck of the Irish

Within minutes of joining the ranks of the bought-out, what pops up in my e-mail but: “Congratulations! You have won!” In a matter of weeks, my e-mail address has won like a dozen foreign lotteries. I had to tell them to stop. I’m running out of banks to deposit $100,000 in. (Or, for the copy editors among you, “running out of banks in which to deposit $100,000.)

The real luck, of course, was having the ability to spend almost 19 years working with all of you. I have never gotten over the awe I felt when I first joined the staff, realizing that I was working side-by-side with the best journalists in the country. It is an honor to be associated with you. It’s a greater honor to call so many of you my friends.

I remain at the same home office and will remain on the e-mail system. (The Times will still be running my columns.) I also have a new e-mail address – xxxxxxx...My point is: I’m very accessible. I’m leaving the paper, but not you. Call me if you need a source; a friend; somebody with whom to have lunch.

Best always—

Silverstein is an editor on the politics desk.

From: Silverstein, Stuart
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2008 12:56 PM
Subject: Palin in, Silverstein out

Leave it to the McCain campaign to upstage my farewell to the Los Angeles Times. After a mostly wonderful 23-year run, I finish up my Times career today. I’m hanging out at my desk in National, accepting handshakes, bear hugs, lunch offers and your good wishes. (Although we should do it all quietly, so my colleagues doing their sleuthing today on a certain once-obscure Alaska governor can get their work done!)

Keep up all the great work, friends. I’ve always been enormously proud to be an LA Times guy, and I’ll keep on being proud of all the great journalism that happens here.

I hope to keep in touch with lots and lots of you folks. My personal e-mail address is xxxxxxxx.

All the best, everybody.

– Stu

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