Neil was the Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer-winning automobile columnist who hasn't had a natural home since the paper got rid of both the auto section and the Sunday magazine where Neil had a column for awhile. There also was that whole business about Neil signing on as the most high-profile newsroom plaintiff in a 2008 lawsuit against Sam Zell and Tribune by current and past employees. I don't know the backstory to his departure, although I did get a tip in recent days urging me to look into whether Neil would be moving back to North Carolina. The memo circulated at the Wall Street Journal doesn't say where Neil will reside, but praises the hire:
Dan is the nation's preeminent car columnist, whose deep knowledge, wit, writerly flair and insight have made him must-reading for everyone who cares about cars and many who don't.
If you're scoring at home: This leaves photographer Carolyn Cole as the only winner from the LAT's big sweep of five Pulitzers in 2005 — before Zell or Eddy Hartenstein were in the newspaper business — to remain with the Times.
* Update from Twitter: L.A. Times media columnist James Rainey reports via tweet: "I'm told Dan Neil genius car writer, might do show for News Corp's Fox TV that would have him driving cars in exotic locales."
** Late update: Neil posted on Facebook that his family is indeed relocating to North Carolina.
An auto writer in Baghdad