Media people

Mark Heisler gets another column -- this time in the LANG papers

mark-heisler-dn.jpgThe saga of Mark Heisler's NBA column has taken another turn. The Hall of Fame-honored writer will now write about hoops for the Los Angeles News Group papers, which include the Daily News and Daily Breeze among others — beginning Sunday with a column about Donald Sterling, Steve Ballmer and his Clippers. It has been less than two weeks since we reported that the Los Angeles Times, which laid off the paper's former marquee basketball writer in 2011, had asked Heisler to come back and write a weekly NBA column — then abruptly dropped him without explanation after one column. The speculation in the Times newsroom has been that editor Davan Maharaj just didn't want Heisler writing for the paper, and was a week late to act on his decree. Heisler, in a first-person piece for Truthdig last weekend, says he was never given any explanation. Those columns were to pay Heisler $200 a pop. Excerpt:

My homecoming lasted one column, published Oct. 25 as part of a preseason package.

Two days later, heading to the Laker opener, I returned a call from the sports editor—I was thinking about joking, “I hope this isn’t what it was the last time you guys called me.”
It was exactly what it was the last time they called me.

As opposed to all the paperwork in 2011, I was just dropped off the sports department freelance roster, which, budget-wise, consisted primarily of me. I can’t tell you why it happened, because they didn’t tell me.

The Times will always be family to me, at least the people I worked with and, institutionally, as an ideal we shared. Our section reached dazzling heights in the 1980s with the great Jim Murray and a staff so talented that phenom of phenoms Rick Reilly had to work his way up writing sidebars. I still catch myself referring to the paper as “we” with Times people.

Well, now he can talk about "we" with an even more depleted sports staff. For its part, LANG's sport lineup also recently added ex-OC Register columnist Mark Whicker. Sports editor Tom Moore says in the papers today that Heisler will be a good pick up.

Heisler has covered the NBA for more than 30 years, including a weekly NBA column since 1991.

“This is a great addition for our readers. We’re trying to deliver world class sports coverage and Mark is a world-class writer,” said L.A. News Group Executive Sports Editor Tom Moore. “And Mark can be a great mentor for others on our staff as well.”

Heisler will write a weekly NBA column for the group of papers and websites that includes the Los Angeles Daily News, Torrance Daily Breeze, Long Beach Press-Telegram, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, Whittier Daily News, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun, which reach a combined print circulation of more than 450,000 subscribers around Los Angeles.

The L.A. News Group also recently added longtime columnist Mark Whicker and has begun to travel full-time with the Dodgers.

Heisler is a 1965 graduate of the University of Illinois who worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Northridge with his wife, Loretta, and their daughter, Emily. Follow him on Twitter @MarkHeisler.

The Los Angeles News Group has grabbed ex-LA Times writers before. Tim Rutten has a weekend op-ed column in the Daily News that I think runs LANG-wide. Several years ago the Daily News also had picked up longtime columnist Al Martinez. We know how that worked out.

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