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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Heisler’

Former LA Times Columnist Mark Heisler on the High Price of Cost Cutting

In a column for TruthDig, veteran sportswriter Mark Heisler, laid off last month from the LA Times, speaks plainly about the troubles facing the newspaper industry. Of particular interest, when print struggles to maintain relevance in the Internet age, is how management’s efforts to save money came at the cost of real reporting:

Newspapers entered the computer age in the ’70s and ’80s with promises of later deadlines that would give us more time to report, think through and write our stories.

Instead, the extra time went to the production side to cut costs. Our deadlines—particularly merciless for our main run at 10:30 p.m., with the average baseball game scheduled to started at 7:30, getting under way at 7:40 and ending around 10:45—stayed where they were, or were even moved earlier. One memorable Saturday last fall, the deadline was moved up to 9:30 p.m., too early to get the score of that night’s USC-Stanford game, one of our lead stories, into the newspaper.

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Getting Laid Off Hasn’t Made LA Times NBA Writer Bitter

NBA writer Mark Heisler, a 32-year veteran of the LA Times, was among those laid off last week, and he’s taking it in stride. In an essay published today on Romenesko, he reflects on the newspaper’s skill at shedding employees:

I got the bad news last Wednesday in Ocean City, N.J., on vacation.

These days, worse things can happen to you. My friend, Dan McGrath, the former Tribune sports editor, was told in person–then frog-marched out of the building by an escort, presumably to keep him from getting to his computer, downloading the next day’s budget and selling it to the Sun-Times.

So, getting told over the phone was OK with me!

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Adding to the LA Times Body Count

The staffers laid off from the LA Times last week weren’t the only ones losing their jobs. Some, like Randy Hagihara, director of the metro & summer internship program, took voluntary buyouts. Freelance budgets were slashed in multiple sections, meaning less work for struggling freelancers. We heard from Avital Binshtock, a regular contributor to the travel section, that her Tours & Cruises and Calendar columns were being killed. And we’ve spoken to other LA Times freelance contributors who are uncertain of their future with the paper and are, at this point, just keeping their fingers crossed.

Just when we thought we couldn’t hate Sam Zell any more than we already do.

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Breaking: Major Layoffs at the LA Times

A source tells us columnist Tim Rutten was definitely laid off.  So was Sharon Bernstein, the assistant business editor. We’re told the Calendar section will largely be spared, losing mainly expense and freelance budgets. But that “features (health, travel, food etc) is getting hit harder.”

LA Observed reports NBA writer Mark Heisler was also let go.

Sadly, more to come on this story, we’re sure.

Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Heckles His Own Point Guard

Los Angeles Clippers owner and generally awful human being Donald Sterling has some new antics underway. Namely, sitting at courtside and heckling his own players during games. Clippers point guard Baron Davis, who Sterling is paying $13 million this year, is the main recipient of Sterling’s jeers.

Yahoo!’s Mark J. Spears witnessed Sterling in action over the weekend and gives us a sample:

– “Why are you in the game?”

– “Why did you take that shot?”

– “You’re out of shape!”

Sterling “started getting a lot more vocal during the second half of last season,” a team source told Spears. “He never had done that before at games. Baron’s his pet project. He absolutely hates Baron. He wants to get his money back.

Keep it classy Donald.

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