Thursday, September 18, 2008

'You S.O.B., don’t ever call my desk and try to bribe me'

That was L.A. Herald-Examiner city editor Aggie Underwood yelling into the phone.

On the other end of the line: the mayor of Los Angeles. [Click for MORE]

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Own a Piece of Journalism History

You can own Helen Thomas' Typewriter

Picture yourself at the White House, pounding away on your keyboard after a Presidential briefing on the nation’s economy and foreign policy issues. It’s time to report your story to the world on a special piece of hardware – a typewriter owned by journalism legend Helen Thomas. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

'L.A. Times' Refugees Sue for Control of Paper

By Jeff Bercovici

It would be hard to argue that Sam Zell really knows his way around the newspaper business. But does his floundering constitute grounds for legal action?

A group of former Los Angeles Times staffers say it does. Calling Zell's takeover of Tribune "a scam" and "a classic grift," they filed a class-action suit in federal court today, seeking to force Zell to hand over control of the company.

"This is basically a workers'-rights issue," says Dan Neil, an automotive columnist* who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work at the Times. The suit hinges on what he and his fellow plaintiffs allege is Zell's misuse of the employee stock ownership plan through which Zell was able to acquire a controlling interest in Tribune for a mere $500 million. "The ESOP law was not written so companies could be taken over like this. It's an abuse of the ESOP structure and, I think, a fairly obvious effort to avoid paying taxes."

Among the other named plaintiffs are Corie Brown, a former Times wine and food writer; Myron Levin, a former consumer affairs writer; former writer Walter Roche Jr.; and former D.C. bureau chief Jack Nelson; and Henry Weinstein, the legal-affairs writer often described by colleagues as "the conscience of the paper." All Tribune employees are eligible to join, says Neil.

It was Weinstein who first came up with the idea for the suit following a wave of layoffs in early summer. "It occurred to us that we, the employee-owners, had little or nothing to say over the way the company was being managed," says Neil. "We could see there were some mistakes being made, at least on the editorial side. So people started to buckle on their armor."

While layoffs and buyouts are the order of the day at virtually every big newspaper, what's happening at the Times and other Tribune newspapers is particularly egregious, says Neil. Tribune's papers, he says, are profitable; there would be no need for layoffs were it not for the "absurdly untenable" debt Zell piled on the company in making the deal.

"Zell is a corporate raider," says Neil. "He's not a publisher. Newspapers are too important to the public to be treated as just pieces on a financial chessboard."

A Tribune spokesman said the company had not yet reviewed the complaint and had no comment for now.

> Details on Zell lawsuit
> Ex-Times reporters sue Zell
> 115-Page legal complaint pdf Sphere: Related Content

Monday, September 15, 2008

McCain Manipulated


Atlantic magazine and its writer Jeffrey Goldberg are unhappy that Los Angeles photographer Jill Greenberg turned in manipulated photos of John McCain for a story, then announced that she had tweaked the lighting to make McCain look bad. Here's what Goldberg says on his blog:
Like others at the Atlantic, I was appalled to read about the actions of Jill Greenberg, the freelance photographer who took the cover portrait that illustrates my article about John McCain. Greenberg doctored photographs of McCain she took during her Atlantic-arranged shoot, which took place last month in Las Vegas. She has posted these doctored photographs on her website, which you can go find yourself, if you must. Suffice it to say that her "art" is juvenile, and on occasion repulsive. This is not the issue, of course; the issue is that she betrayed this magazine, and disgraced her profession.


Every so often, journalists become deranged at the sight of certain candidates, and lose their bearings. Why, this has even happened in the case of John McCain once or twice. What I find truly astonishing is the blithe way in which she has tried to hurt this magazine.

[Click for MORE]

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

25 Die in Chatsworth Train Crash

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