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.
The reaction tonight is crazy. Thanks so much. Totally in tears.— Larry Altman (@LarryAltman) February 28, 2018
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.
Some personal news...— Stephanie K. Baer (@skbaer) February 27, 2018
Today was my last day at @SGVTribune / Southern California News Group. I'll be joining the breaking news team at @BuzzFeedNews in LA.
I'm so grateful and excited for this new opportunity, but I'm really going to miss my SCNG colleagues. 1/
Just as an FYI, I'm no longer part of the @ladailynews or Southern California News Group as I got laid off. Thanks for all the retweets & support. I'll keep this account going as I figure out what's next.— Wes Woods II (@JournoWes) February 26, 2018
Thanks for the memories, Sam! Word's out. Tomorrow is my last official day as a reporter for the Press-Telegram and the Southern California News Group. It was a tough decision to leave a team of people I respect and admire, but it was one I had to make. Until we meet again 👊🏼 https://t.co/Wr1ijBuKvy— Courtney Tompkins (@CTompkinsTweets) February 28, 2018
My last story for the Southern California News Group. Fittingly it’s a co-byline with @WhitReporter. It was a great run surrounded by dedicated, hard working professional journalists. The best colleagues in any newsroom. #localjournalism https://t.co/SRi5t0DY0v— Sandra Molina (@sandzmo) February 25, 2018
Dozens of local journalists across Southern California are losing their jobs today. Coverage of your community is going to get a lot more quiet, starting now.— Joshua Cain (@joshpcain) February 23, 2018
Farewell... pic.twitter.com/5UDD7j6puc— Brian Day (@sgvcrime) February 26, 2018
Some personal news:— Ryan Fonseca 💻⚔️📰 (@RyFons) February 23, 2018
I will be joining the digital team at KPCC in Pasadena next month.
I'm beyond thrilled, especially given today's news about the return of LAist, which demonstrates KPCC's continued commitment to vital community journalism. Stay tuned!
After 17 years at the @DailyBreezeNews this was my last photo. 75% of our photo staff has been eliminated since October. I was laid off with 3 other photogs yesterday. We were a great crew. Dedicated & passionate about quality journalism. #lastframe https://t.co/SK2Yc5vIbj pic.twitter.com/HuzVJtXk8r— Scott Varley (@VarleyPhoto) January 23, 2018