NYT thins more in Los Angeles, and the LAT hires locally

nyt-newsroom.jpgIt turns out that the Los Angeles bureau of the New York Times took a deeper hit than I realized in the recent buyout of veteran employees. I had reported the July exits of entertainment reporter Michael Cieply and photojournalist Monica Almeida. But Cieply, who took the cash then signed on at Deadline Hollywood, writes there that a third member of the LA bureau, biotech business reporter Andrew Pollack, took the buyout offer and reporter Ian Lovett jumped to the Wall Street Journal. Yes, before leaving Lovett executed that one-week experiment in June on a California-themed newsletter for the NYT.

Cieply says that the Los Angeles bureau is now very thin and that executive editor Dean Baquet vows to rebuild the staff here — but maybe not right away. As we reported last month, the bureau chief, Adam Nagourney, is planning a book leave starting in 2018 to write about the New York Times itself.

That leaves Brooks Barnes covering Hollywood, Jennifer Medina writing for the National staff, and Manohla Dargis reviewing films. As Dargis rarely appears in the bureau, and Nagourney is often on the road, there is no shortage of available desks in the Times’ mid-Wilshire office, which was designed to accommodate at least 13. It has never been full, but never quite this empty.

Asked about his plans on Wednesday, Baquet, the Times executive editor, promised fresh faces, and, possibly, growth. “What I will say is that we plan on increasing our presence in Los Angeles,” he said in an email.

“By this time next year, my goal is to have more people there than we do now,” Baquet added.

Precise arithmetic is difficult; Pollack hasn’t yet left, but will go shortly, so it’s hard to tell whether Baquet is counting him among those still in place. But, having once been editor of the Los Angeles Times, Baquet clearly has an eye on Los Angeles, and doesn’t mean to see it become a backwater.

One option might have been to broaden the Hollywood coverage with a Culture desk reporter. Brooks and I both reported to the Media desk, which in turn belonged to Business, so the institutional politics got complicated. But a recent internal job posting by the Business desk seems to keep the job in its ambit.

One name in the rumor breeze as a possible bureau chief in LA: Sheryl Gay Stolberg, the NYT's Mid-Atlantic bureau chief and a former Los Angeles Times reporter.

The recent buyouts reduced the overall New York Times staff by 70 or 80 people, and the New York Post says the clouds on the financial horizon of the NYT are so dark that executives are already looking at another buyout offer, plus steps such as eliminating the print version of the Sunday magazine and the Sunday Metro section. "This is nothing more than very badly informed rumor and speculation,” a Times spokeswoman told the Post. (The photo above is of the New York newsroom.)

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times made another post-buyout hire, inking Los Angeles Daily News reporter David Montero to be the LAT correspondent in Las Vegas. The Nevada bureau has been open since John Glionna took the LAT's buyout late last year. Montero will be "covering Sin City and the American West," the Times said in an announcement.

Montero comes to The Times from the Los Angeles Daily News and has worked at newspapers throughout the region, including the Salt Lake Tribune, the Rocky Mountain News and the Orange County Register.

Montero has covered important stories locally and nationally, including the devastation of Hurricane Katrina; the Mormon Church’s struggle with Latino immigration in Utah; and a funeral for one of the victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. When Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for the presidency, Montero sat with emotional members of the Alabama delegation, many of whom had been civil-rights marchers at Selma.

Montero grew up in Orange County and is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton. He’s a lifelong lover of books, movies and baseball.

The LA Times has lost and gained several journalists in recent weeks: most can be found here. The Times was also sued this week by former reporter and editor Jeff Gottlieb, part of the team that won a Pulitzer for investigating the city of Bell. He alleges age discrimination and harassment by his bosses; the paper denied the allegations.

The latest reporter to depart the LA Times, county social services reporter Garrett Therolf, sent a nice farewell note to the newsroom on Thursday. It reads in part:

My grandmother was a kid who roller-skated down the slope from her Bunker Hill tenement to the Central Library, and her godmother often dropped by after work. She was a nanny for the Chandlers back when Otis was young, and she gave my grandmother glimpses of a more privileged world with broader horizons and big ideas. My grandmother chased after that world for the rest of her life, and even though she worked long hours as telephone operator, she always managed to contribute to this city’s civic life. She wanted me to do the same.

And when I was a kid growing up in a small town in California's high desert, reading this newspaper helped me too to figure out that I lived in a much bigger world and that journalism was a discipline that could allow a person to get to the bottom of the things. Having the chance to work inside this building has been a dream come true. To get the best inspiration and most original take on just about anything, I only had to look to my right or left.

I’m especially grateful to the editors and mentors who took an interest in my stories and were so generous in their guidance and support...It feels good to say that I come from the Los Angeles Times, and if the next decade is half as rich as the last one, I’ll be very grateful.

Also on the LA Times front, the Nieman Lab website ran a story detailing how the Times has switched from the atrocious old Tribune news editing platform to a new system created in house. It's getting such good internal reviews that the Tronc suits want to spread it out to the new company's other newspapers. SNAP, as it's called, makes it much easier for reporters or editors to enrich a story for the web with photos, video and other adornments. Data desk editor Ben Welsh tweeted that "for first time in its history, virtually all @latimes news is now written and edited for the web first. The river, reversed."

The Nieman Lab story doesn't address whether the new content management system had anything to do with the weekend embarrassment in which the Times website and print paper both ran a 2010 story from the San Diego Union-Tribune as news. A new Times' correction says the story was supposed to run with the label of "California Retrospective," but the original correction posted Monday after I wrote about the mistake makes no mention of any "California Retrospective" label. As of tonight, it still doesn't: the Times simply says the story was "inadvertently republished Saturday with an August 2016 date, making it appear that she had just been denied parole."

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 Newspapers stories on LA Observed:
Olde-time L.A. journalism
Endangered SoCal papers plead for your help to continue
Soon-Shiong assures LA Times staff it's going to be OK
A reporter says farewell to his newspaper home
LA Times 'prince of darkness' strikes
Deep layoffs began Monday at SoCal News Group
Read the LA Times response to Los Angeles Magazine's piece
NYT thins more in Los Angeles, and the LAT hires locally