Don’t Play It Again, Sam: ‘L.A. Times’ Staffers Bid Farewell in E-mails — Some Targeting Zell

By: E&P Staff

The latest round of buyouts at the Los Angeles Times has cost the newspaper a high number of experienced staffers, some of whom took shots at the direction of the paper and/or new owner Sam Zell as they headed out the door.

Kevin Roderick at his popular blog aseembled some of the emails over the weekend. Here is a brief selection. They are at his site in full.

Subject: so long

Wow, 26 years sure moved fast. I can’t begin to express how much I’ve enjoyed sharing a career with all of you as we mastered some of the biggest stories L.A. could throw at us?riots, earthquakes, O.J., fires and on and on. The one constant amid the churn of stories has been the passion of the staff, which has allowed this place to flourish even in the most difficult times, such as now. It’s been a privilege and inspiration to work alongside you.

Our new “Innovation Officer” recently used the origins of rock ‘n roll to explain his vision for The Times. No offense, Lee, but I’d like to think of us more as a symphony, with each part, each note, as important as the next. And, Mr. Zell, please don’t confuse arrogance with a commitment to something grander than the real estate in which we’re housed or to the dollars in our ESOP. You want people to “Talk to Sam” but not to “Talkback to Sam.” Perhaps that’s a closer definition of arrogance.

So, with that off my chest (sort of), I’ll say good-bye and good luck to you all.

Joel Sappell, special projects ed.
Subject: The end is near…

Well, here it is, only a few more hours till many of us walk out that door. It’s been a great ride and I want to thank everyone here for all the support and kind words you’ve given me. I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such a great group of people, both those who are here today and the long line of journalists who have gone before. The characters and stories that have come through this newsroom, you just couldn’t make up a better story. I am fortunate to have been a part of it.

The value in this “product” is produced right here, in the newsroom. It’s the reporters, editors, photographers, researchers, librarians, artists and all the others who bring value to this paper and make it one of the best in the country. And that’s in spite of the turmoil foisted upon us for the last several years. It’s not the flash, not the investment bankers, or wall street or some yahoo sitting in a corporate office. People buy and read this newspaper for the news, the content that is created and distributed each and every day in whatever medium. Anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot and screw ’em.

I hope I will see some of you in the future. I’m headed into uncharted territory, but I think it will be great. It’s been an honor and a privilege knowing you and working with you. I will always keep you with me.

James Ricci, Metro reporter
Subject: going down the road feelin’…

…well, feeling a lot of things. Not all should be shared. Words fail. Thank you to all for the last 8 years, most of them good and all of them entertaining. And special thanks to those few, those happy few, my fellow copy messengers, summer of 1991. May the library bell always flash in your memories.

I’m as amazed at the skill and dedication of the reporters, editors, photogs and super-duper librarian-researchers here as I was as an 8-year-old hanging out on the foreign copy desk on days when my mom brought me to work. You’re the toughest staff employed by any publication anywhere. If there’s any justice in this business, things will get better.

For the next two years, I’m going to try to figure out if the non-profit journalism world is any better. But I hope to have the privilege of working with all of you again someday.

While I’m leaving the paper, I’m also moving home to LA soon — maybe in time to catch the Lakers in the NBA finals. Call. Write. Please.

Joe Mathews, Washington reporter

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