Foreign contraction at the L.A. Times

Even before last week's new round of departures from the Times, the paper's once-signature foreign staff had shrunk. The bureaus in Tokyo, Paris and Rome have been listed as vacant for some time. Now, I'm told, Spain-based international investigations reporter Sebastian Rotella has accepted an offer he couldn't refuse to return to Los Angeles, Jerusalem-based Ashraf Khalil will leave the Times to stay in the Middle East, and Chris Kraul also turned down a return ticket to L.A. and will stay in Bogota, Colombia to freelance. Kraul, you might remember, was one of the Times correspondents injured in a New Year's Eve 2003 car bombing in Baghdad. Despite several operations at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, Kraul lost the sight in his right eye.

More departures: Sources confirm that last week's LAT exits (which were a mix of voluntary buyouts and layoffs) included food writer Amy Scattergood, San Fernando Valley-oriented reporter Jennifer Oldham, readers' representative editor Kent Zelas and at least two veteran administrative assistants in the newsroom, Linda Cuadra and Jan Mamone. Also, the paper's longtime coordinator of prize applications, Brent Wyeth, left once this year's Pulitzer entry deadline passed. Noted earlier: Ted Rohrlich, Dan Morain, Abigail Goldman, Joseph Menn and Monica Corcoran.

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