Times’ employees to boo, picket newspaper’s editor

By T.J. Simers

I don’t know if Los Angeles Times’ editor Kevin Merida has been told, but some of his staff plan to make his life miserable tomorrow.

The employees in the LAT Guild have been urged to don their distinctive banana-colored union shirts, meet at The California Club, wave signs and make noise while their boss tries to speak on the “hilariously titled” speech as a memo given to the staff suggested, “The Future of Journalism.”

Merida is scheduled to talk at 11:30 am to the Los Angeles world Affairs Council & Town Hall, although there is concern from Times’ employees The California Club may be difficult to penetrate.

The memo says, “Kevin is not qualified to speak on the “Future” of journalism, not after he just sent us back to the 1980s by slaughtering our audio and audience engagement divisions, ensuring we can be whatever the opposite of competitive is online.”

Ouch! Good thing the guild is protecting “JQ,” who wrote the memo because the writing could use some help.

JQ also mentioned the Times’ reporters will be passing out leaflets “To raise public awareness to Kevin’s lack of leadership.”

Double ouch!! But I wonder what Merida’s reaction will be when recognizing staffers booing him. We’ll see how many employees show up.

The Times’ newsroom is reportedly very upset with Merida, whose judgment is already being second-guessed here for his role in the hiring of Culture Critic Tyle R. Tynes.

For the record, Times’ editors in recent years haven’t lasted very long. We’ll see how upset the newsroom is with Merida and whether owner Patrick Soon-Shiong notices.

The union employees are divided in some cases by way of their caucuses, ie: a Latino caucus or Black caucus, and they all think Merida has done them wrong.

“This disenchantment with Merida is all about race,” said one Times’ employee.

Or as the Guild newsletter given to employees said, “Our analysis of the company’s numbers shows that management targeted the most diverse large group of Guild members in our newsroom:” the copy editors responsible for much of our digital product.

I know the Times editorializes about racial problems; I didn’t know they had them.

That probably makes for a very unhealthy newsroom under Merida’s leadership.

Word is Merida has not lived up to previous promises to make the newsroom more diverse. There are certain diversity percentages that have been assured, but they are now sliding the opposite way.

“The company previously pledged publicly and privately,” the newsletter says, “to improve diversity…but will undo much of its progress with one brute swing of the layoff ax.”

The Times laid off 74 employees last week, 56 Guild workers, and the Guild was pushing instead for a company-wide buyout opportunity.

And I suggested to owner Patrick Soon-Shiong I might be interested in going back to work there. What a mess. There has been no talk about how to improve the product.

Merida also irritated those who weren’t laid off with disingenuous remarks about how upset he and other editors were with the layoffs. Merida said it wasn’t time for management layoffs because someone has to run the paper.

Yes, run the paper into the ground.

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