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Internal L.A. Times e-mail About Baquet's Firing

Frank Ahrens

This e-mail was passed along to me by an L.A. Times source yesterday after editor Dean Baquet announced in the newsroom that he was fired for refusing to make more staff cuts that parent company Tribune Co. demanded.

It came from managing editor Leo Wolinsky and it enumerates a number of tough times and mis-steps the Times has experienced in recent years. It takes a little translation, but it really sums up in a few sentences what Times staffers have been through in only a few years.

Now, they've lost their editor, who becomes a journalism martyr for the early 21st century.

In the wake of it all, Wolinksy is mustering a pep-talk.

A glossary for the e-mail:

* Otis Chandler was the long-time beloved publisher of the Times.

* Mark Willes was the former head of Times Mirror Inc., which owned the Times before Tribune bought it in 2000. He came from General Mills and when he authorized layoffs at the papers, newspaper wags dubbed him the "Cereal Killer."

* The Staples scandal: The paper stepped in an ethical mess when it published a large advertising insert about the opening of the Staples Center in the L.A. Times Sunday magazine and split ad revenue with the center.

* Doug is Times managing editor Douglas Frantz

From: Wolinsky, Leo
Sent: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 8:36 PM
Subject: Ok, so I'm staying too!

Friends,

Okay, so Doug beat me to it. Number two, the story of my life!

Just a brief word from an old-timer on a very difficult day. Losing Dean is the most difficult change I've had to weather. And I'm sure it's true for most of you. He not only is an amazing creative force, but a wonderful, welcoming friend who will be missed.

This is not the first trauma to hit the newsroom. Though this one feels particularly painful, we've been through a lot over the last 15 years. There was the exit of Otis Chandler as publisher. The newsroom was raw after the L. A. riots opened up rifts between staffers. Mark Willes, the famous Cereal Killer, pulled an Alexander Haig and became both CEO and publisher. Of course there was the Staples scandal.

Through each of these and many other difficulties, the staff continued to do what it does best--strive to put out the best newspaper in America. Our ambition remains unchanged. The future is full of uncertainties. And changes are inevitable. So what can we do? Each of you has the power to rise again, to do great work and keep this paper strong for the community we serve. We are more than a business. We are a public trust. I know we're all proud of that role. I intend to stay and fight to keep this paper great. I hope you'll join me.

Leo

By Frank Ahrens  |  November 7, 2006; 11:11 PM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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Comments

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Um, what exactly does this have to to with technology? You guys just seem to fill this space with random stuff, from internal newspaper memos to reports on what your dog did on Halloween. You might be able to stretch and say there's a tech element here, but, seriously, stop wasting my time with this stuff or I'll just stop looking here for news and tidbits about technology.

Posted by: Jester | November 8, 2006 2:44 AM

The correct spelling is Baquet.

Posted by: Bill | November 8, 2006 6:20 AM

Hi, Jester:

Well, as part of our Business section's tech coverage, I cover the media and entertainment industries. I got the e-mail too late last night to stick in my story in today's Style section but, because it was news, I wanted to publish it. The blog was my available venue. Admittedly, the Times e-mail wasn't about a Windows patch or a Linux debate, but that speaks to my larger point:

I hope you think of us as a buffett of items; after all, we call ourselves a Users Guide to the 21st Century.

Some morsels will suit your taste, others will not. But I do hope you keep checking back in.

Thanks!

Posted by: Frank Ahrens | November 8, 2006 12:28 PM

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