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More Carnage at the LA Times

More names from yesterday’s layoffs at the LA Times have come out. Assistant Travel editor Jane Engle was let go. LA Observed has her goodbye memo. Sports columnist Jerry Crowe was also cut.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of yesterday’s horrible news was that the website of  the Times took some serious hits too. Blog editor Tony Pierce was let go as was web producer Kelsey Ramos-Conroy.

Much to the disappointment of Media Matters, we’re sure, Pierce’s pal Andrew Malcolm is still around.

LA Observed beat us to it, but we too got a hold of Pierce’s goodbye letter.

Posted after the jump:

From: Pierce, Tony
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 4:38 PM
To: yyeditall; yylatbloggers
Subject: Dear LA Times, you rock

 

Dear Los Angeles Times,

I don’t think you realize, but years ago, I used to have a pretty successful personal blog.

And on that blog, every now and then, I’d write a post that would start

“Dear LA Times, you suck…”

And I would go off on how I would change things if only the Times would hire me to blog.

True story.

The readers loved it because who doesn’t love a profanity laden rant by a nobody as he shakes his fist at The Man?

One day I got the nerve to actually write the LA Times. The unlikely victim was Meredith Artley who was running the web site at the time.

I was running an upstart local blog, LAist, who just had a month so big that it had quadrupled the Times’ most popular blog.

I wrote in part, “I don’t know what the word is after quadruple, but if you don’t hire me I’m gonna have to learn it.”

Because life is fascinating, I was hired not to write on one blog but to run all the blogs at the LA Times.

As the kids say: omgwtf. As my mother says, “be careful what you wish for.”

Those days all of the blogs at the Times added up to 3 million pageviews a month. In March, as you know, blogs accounted for about 72 million pageviews that month.

When I was invited to go into an office today, I was told that the LA Times no longer needs a Blog Editor.

One might think, how can the one part of the Times that has consistently shown record-breaking growth month after month, and year after year, not need someone whose sole agenda is looking out for the best interest of those blogs?

Especially if that part is the part that everyone agrees is the future of the company, if not the heart of its present?

Here’s what I think. I think someone finally paid attention to the main idea at the center of all of my others: the solution for the Times is already at the Times.

When I first got here way back in Dec of ‘07 I said stop hiring freelancers to write your blog posts, the superstars who the people want to read are the LAT staffers who we read in the paper. Those are the ones with the contacts, the experience, and the advantages that every other blogger wishes they had.

And sure enough, when blogs like LA Now and Fab Forum turned into firehoses of news, people flocked.

That was one part. The part everyone talks about, the numbers. The other part that’s harder to express is the quality of writing and reporting. May I say that the best part of the success, for me, of the blogs at the Times is that it happened mostly on hard news blogs where the writing was at the highest standard, ready for newsprint.

People like Geoff Boucher, Borzou Daragahi, Tom Petruno and Todd Martens are people I’d read on a moving truck if I had to. How nice they have blogs to make things easier.

Meanwhile, what a blessing to sit next to the AM Copy Desk. Bloggers outside the building have no idea how important and valuable the Copy desk is. I will miss them a lot. (How much more concise would this email have been with their help.)

This was a dream job for me. And we did it despite the economy, despite the bankruptcy, and despite our friends in my hometown of Chicago.

I love you Los Angeles Times. You’ve all taught me so much. It was a true honor to work alongside you all.

Before I click send I’d like to acknowledge two people still at the Times who are close to my heart.

The Blog Dept only consisted technically of two people, me and Lindsay Barnett. An angel if ever there was one. I’ve never worked so closely with any one person for so long and so successfully, and we couldn’t have been more different. She’s a devout vegan, and I can tell you where any McDonalds is in any part of Southern California.

I knew my days were numbered when she was moved out of our dept this spring and I was assigned to blog solely at Top of the Ticket.

Which brings us to Andrew Malcolm, my blogging partner for the last couple months. Together we moved the needle from 500k to 1 million in one month. The next month we did 2 million. Last month we did 3, and this month we were on pace for another 3 million. Not bad for two guys who were rarely on the homepage competing for the same stories as our excellent pals on Politics Now, and the rest of the political blogosphere.

Andy’s enthusiasm and dedication on a blog that requires multiple posts every day helped legitimize blogging to some small corners of the newsroom who still didn’t immediately see its importance back in 07-08. And for that I can easily say that blogs would not have taken off as quickly as they did at the Times if it hadn’t  been for Andy Malcolm and Top of the Ticket.

Which is why it was so weird/cool/beautiful to be able to write with Andy to great success these last few months.

Yes there was a lot more I wanted to do as Blog Editor, just like there’s more I want to say now. But one thing I’ve noticed with all these farewell letters, the veterans keep it short, and the relative newbies like me ramble on.

I have always been fond of LAT tradition.

So by all means, keep rocking,

Tony

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