The current wave of departures from the Los Angeles Times newsroom isn't nearly over — there's a voluntary buyout on the table with an end of August deadline. In that context, perhaps, the paper's senior science and health writer Thomas Maugh announced to colleagues today that he's retiring on August 31. "After 26 years at the paper, it is time to become a man of leisure," his email says. "It has been a great pleasure working with you all, and thanks for everything."
Maugh, a steady hand on topics from planetary discoveries to presidential health crises to archaeology, is the last link to the years when the Times competed internationally on science coverage, had a significant weekly package and prototyped a section to rival the NYT's Science Times. Those ambitions were dropped long ago, partly cost-cutting and partly editorial choice, despite the major presence of science, health and technology institutions in Southern California. The LAT's science "page" this past Saturday was a sorry-looking half-page that was easily overlooked.
Editors are said to be dropping strong hints to staffers with big paychecks that now might be a good time to take the money and run. The presumption of some around the paper is that if enough well-paid names don't grab the buyout offer by Aug. 31, more layoffs would follow right away.
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Photo: Ed Fuentes