Geraldine Baum, The Los Angeles Times’ New York Bureau Chief since 1989, is stepping down tomorrow. According to a memo Baum sent out to colleagues, she has decided to move on because she wants to take her life in a new direction.
“It’s as simple and complicated and mysterious as this: Although I’ll never stop writing and thinking like a journalist, it’s time for Geraldine 2.0,” wrote Baum. “I leave knowing I did the kind of work that mattered, and I’m grateful that journalists like all of you still do.”
See the complete memo after the jump.
It has been 23 years since I spilled a glass of red wine on Jack Nelson’s powder blue suit, but he still let me join the Washington bureau of this newspaper.
And now I’m moving on. Friday is my last day.
The Los Angeles Times has been like a luxurious university for me. Only better because instead of term papers I could follow my interests, report and write my brains out. I covered Washington, New York and Paris, and wrote for View, Life & Style, Calendar, the magazine, foreign, national, and Column One. And every Monday for two years I filed the “New York, N.Y.” column.
It was a great joy, offering a sense of purpose and endless possibilities.
How lucky was I to have written with Faye Fiore about an impeachment trial from the floor of Congress. To have worked overseas as part of a sort of European girl-band with Tracy Wilkinson and Kim Murphy, two of my generation’s best foreign correspondents. To have teamed up with Mark Barabak on a piece about the Cuomos vs. the Clintons, and to have served as Bob Drogin’s leg woman when yet another nut-job tried to blow up Times Square.
How indebted I am to Kari Howard, who could change a few words in a story and make it a hundred times better. And to Steve Clow who saved me multiple times, including from blogging that a historic bill had passed in Albany when what was voted on was just an amendment. (The bill passed 10 minutes later.)
Journalism for me, at its best, is a team sport, and what distinguished the LA Times from other papers was not only that it was a writers’ paper but also the basic decency of just about everyone with whom I worked here. Roger Smith, a phenomenal wordsmith and the last gentleman in journalism. Smart and savvy Scott Kraft, an editor who has actually done what he asks reporters to do. Doyle McManus, an ambassador, adviser and one of the loveliest people I know. Alice Short and Kelly Scott, who regularly rescued me from the muck of New York news with an irresistible feature idea.
I got to see DSK marched before a judge and Sully standing on the wing of the plane he had just deftly landed on the Hudson. On Sept. 11, a day that changed all our lives, I was the eyes and ears of our readers 3,000 miles away.
It’s gotten harder and harder to do all of that (and blog before sunrise.)
So why am I leaving? It’s as simple and complicated and mysterious as this: Although I’ll never stop writing and thinking like a journalist, it’s time for Geraldine 2.0.
I leave knowing I did the kind of work that mattered, and I’m grateful that journalists like all of you still do.