Veteran ‘L.A. Times’ Reporters Laid Off

Around 15 journalists were booted from the paper

The Los Angeles Times laid off another round of employees yesterday, including several of the newspaper’s veteran reporters.

Nancy Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the newspaper, said there were a small number of layoffs because of the economic downturn. “As we continue to evolve our business and react to the difficult economic environment, we are downsizing in some areas and adding resources in others,” she said in a statement.

The L.A. Times' parent company, Tribune Co., is currently going through bankruptcy protection. The newspaper has experienced multiple rounds of cuts in recent years, including a massive layoff of 250 people in 2008. Since April 2007, the number of news staffers has dropped from about 940 to 600 today, according to the Huffington Post.

A source told Reuters that about 15 people were let go this week, but that some of them left voluntary. Editor Russ Stanton and president Kathy Thomson “had a number they had to meet,” and when word got out that they were in talks with senior executives to decide whom to cut, some staffers offered to leave. Others were called in later and told to pack their desks.

Tim Rutten, a former reporter and editor turned op-ed contributor, was let go after nearly 40 years at the paper. Other longtime employees laid off include NBA writer Mark Heisler, sports columnist Jerry Crowe, assistant business editor Sharon Bernstein, and assistant travel editor Jane Engle. Blog editor Tony Pierce and Web producer Kelsey Ramos Conroy also lost their jobs.

Metro editor Ashley Dunn attempted to boost morale in a memo to the staff, writing, “To those who are understandably feeling a bit down, I say: We don’t get our asses whipped, we whip asses. We don’t get ulcers, we give ulcers.” He advised the remaining employees, “Swig that Mountain Dew, suck deeply on that Marlboro Ultralight, tell your editor to move that fucking story.”