Media people

A reporter says farewell to his newspaper home

Reporter Larry Altman with Magic Johnson.

Wednesday is Larry Altman's last day at the South Bay Daily Breeze after 28 years. He stayed when everybody else was leaving. He watched the reporting staff dwindle around him and the copy desk disappear. I don't whether he leaves on his own terms or was invited to go, but he's leaving as layoffs are sweeping through all of the newspapers in the Southern California News Group. This week and last it's reporters; last month it was photojournalists. Next month it's designers.

"Coverage of your community is going to get a lot more quiet, starting now," digital news editor Joshua Cain tweeted.

Altman wrote a post about his years on the beat, and the feelings of leaving, on his Facebook page South Bay Crime and Courts. "It’s a bittersweet day for me, but it’s time to find another challenge," Altman writes. "How many people can say they decided what they wanted to be in the ninth grade and went on to a 32-year career?...

"I never had any idea what I would accomplish as 'Larry Altman at the Daily Breeze.' I helped put a murderer behind bars. I identified a child molester. I assisted grieving families at the worst times of their lives, writing tributes about their loved ones killed in senseless gun violence or alcohol-related crashes. I was often there in court when families obtained justice."

He writes that "over the years, I heard the word 'guilty' announced so many times." He heard "not guilty" only once and believes the jury got it right. His favorite negative email said simply, “Bitch."

His post has gotten a lot of response, and on Twitter tonight he offers a brief follow.

In his Facebook post, Altman thanks the people he has covered and the colleagues and police agencies and lawyers he has worked with. He admits that some of the crime victims whose stories he told have become lifelong friends.


For the most part, I loved being a reporter, but the job came with so much sadness and stress. I sat on so many couches in so many living rooms with parents who lost children, or wives who lost husbands, or children who lost parents to gang violence or drunken drivers. Each interview took away a piece of my heart.

I pray someone solves the murder of 14-year-old DeWayne Jackson in Carson so his lovely mother, Jackie, can gain some peace. I remember sitting on a sofa between Gregory and Teresa Williamson, whose daughter, Nicole, was senselessly murdered while listening to music in her car. Mrs. Williamson sat to my right, clutching my right leg and grabbing onto my right arm as I tried to take notes about her beautiful girl. I was with them throughout their daughter’s killer’s trial. I was with them as we watched the killer walk away from prison after just eight years behind bars.

I remember Marta Benitez shrieking as I sat in her home as their 5-year-old son, Adrian, lay dying in a hospital. A bullet fired into the air a quarter-mile away came down on top of his head. Invited to his hospital room, I shed tears when I saw that little unconscious boy attached to the machines, his head bandaged, tubes running in and out of him. He died two hours later. It will never leave me. It is the story I always name as the worst I ever covered.

I reported on the deaths of 12 police officers. Twelve.

You don't need to be logged in to Facebook to read his post I don't believe.

"I’m not sure where I’ll land. I am not retiring. I do need a job. I’d like to do something meaningful, like teach or write for a cause. The shooting in Florida has me thinking about gun violence. I’ve seen so much, maybe it’s time to do something more than just cover it. Lawyers take note: I’m also taking a paralegal class, so maybe we can work together one day.

"I’ll let you know what happens."

Selected tweets by other SoCal News Group journalists.

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Media people stories on LA Observed:
Walking through 4,000 photographs with Annie Leibovitz
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Joe Frank, somewhere out there
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Michael Bloomberg
Put Jamal Khashoggi Square outside the Saudi consulate on Sawtelle
Here's who the LA Times has newly hired*