By T.J. Simers
Dear Patrick Soon-Shiong,
I hate it when anybody is laid off, a journalist waking up one morning and learning their career is over.
Pat, and I think I can call you that by now, I have no problem with you as owner of the Los Angeles Times trying to save some bucks. In a moment I will try to help you with that.
But yesterday you reportedly were getting rid of 74 employees, most from the copy desk as I have now been told, because someone has the crazy idea a universal copy desk would be more economical. The economist, who came up with that idea, obviously does not understand newspapers and should be immediately laid off.
That’s 74 people who had been working hard for years who are now out of work in an industry that doesn’t do a lot of hiring. That’s 74 people who did nothing more wrong than sitting on a copy desk correcting the work done by reporters. That’s 74 people who supported their families working hard for you.
Unfortunately, it shows how clueless you are as an owner, Pat. Where’s the recognition of talent, effort and a career of dedication? You have a former sports editor on your payroll making a good buck who is in charge of your video studios which no longer make videos. He’s in charge of a staff of zero, and how he fills his day would make a good story.
You have a horse racing writer who lives in Florida, undoubtedly charging you whatever it costs to fly to California to write horse stories. It would be interesting to see if he makes it first class. He also flies to Kentucky for the Derby, Baltimore for the Preakness, New York for the Belmont, California for the Breeder’s Cup—-all expenses on you, Pat.
And he was a former assistant sports editor who is a friend of your current sports editor thereby earning the favorable treatment.
You have three sports writers on your payroll who write less than once a month. And when they do write they usually present work that is unreadable. They get to stay home all day, and I guess practice what it’s like to be laid off. I believe their first names are Tyler, Brady and David.
Pat, you might want to ask your sports editor what you are getting for your investment.
The sports editor won’t know because there is no accountability in her department. Her No. 1 assistant, who was her friend before being hired, is living and working in Portland. I know more and more people are working from home, but if there’s no accountability in the department, here’s a good starting point.
He’s stealing money from the Times while living on the cheap.
Your sports columnists, and I’m not counting Helene because I don’t know anyone who does, are the lifeblood of your section. Plaschke and Hernandez can still make the Times’ sports section interesting to read, but I believe each one of them has appeared once in the newspaper in the last 11 days.
They no longer have assigned days to write so they can be lazy. Back when Dwyre was running sports, columnists had assigned days to write, like Monday, Thursday and Sunday. Two columnists then gave you six columns in the newspaper each week.
That allowed readers to stomach Helene on occasion.
Yes, your sports editor is dreadful. Talk to the veterans on your sports staff about how disorganized she is. She has surrounded herself with friends and sycophants.
How did Tyler R. Tynes survive the purge, four stories in eighth months? She was your editor Kevin Merida’s pick, so your sports editor will never dare irritate Tynes and his benefactor, Merida.
I was encouraged to hear Tynes expressed concern to another employee about his journalism future as the layoffs were being announced, and that he made an appearance on a sports Zoom call. It shows he has a pulse, maybe even a conscience while collecting his checks.
Sarah Valenzuela would not be able to get a job covering the Angels for the Times if she didn’t have an in with the sports editor. The Los Angeles Times, Pat, was so much better than what everybody is getting. You should be demanding better; it’s embarrassing.
If I was a copy editor being notified I was being laid off and Sarah Valenzuela remained employed I would question why I ever chose journalism as a career.
And that’s the problem, 74 people getting laid off reportedly and the decision based on how best to fill their void now with a universal copy desk instead of evaluating talent, scam artists and those shirking work already on the payroll.
That’s where you can save money, Pat.
Otherwise the public gets screwed, the product going to be poorer because, Pat, you aren’t paying attention. If you want to save money, how about demanding the talented who are not working to show up and produce.
I would imagine there are 74 people right now who would be willing to do whatever it takes without complaint.
OK, so they were copy editors and they would complain, but you get the point.