Here’s an update of my previous report on the pissing match between Jim O’Shea and Bill Keller (see Keller’s response today here) over the boast that Los Angeles Times reporters and editors are “for the taking” by The New York Times and also The Washington Post. It’s not looking good for Spring Street: emails and phone calls to Dean Baquet from his former disciples are coming in fast and furious. For instance, the Los Angeles Times‘ California investigations editor, Vernon Loeb, is loudly telling anyone and everyone he wants out. No surprise, since he’d been among the most vocal of the paper’s anti-Tribune Co., pro-Baquet cadre. I’m told that he’s been interviewing with the Philadelphia Inquirer to be a top editor there in Metro (some even say Metro editor). This coincides with very public vows he’s made about doing whatever it takes, including grovel, to follow Baquet to The New York Times. Loeb, of course, was one of the LAT employees who organized that petition drive asking the management of the Tribune Co. and then newly installed LAT publisher David Hiller to “carefully consider and approve Dean’s plans for strategic investments in the newspaper and its website that will expand revenues, enhance Los Angeles Times journalism and ensure a prosperous future for the company and its largest newspaper.” Right now, there are so many LAT editors and reporters who are leaving to join other media outlets, or are about to leave, I simply can’t keep track of them all. But when I spoke to LAT editor Jim O’Shea on Tuesday, he insisted “we’ve been pretty successful keeping people here” and claimed he personally has “talked into staying several people in the Washington bureau. There was one person who sounded out the Washington Post and stayed. There’s one guy who went to The New York Times and came back.” O’Shea declined to identify who these journalists were. I asked how exactly he was retaining people. “It’s a combination of going to talk to them, urge them to stay, give them reason to stay while we face the future and accept these challenges. But also getting on the phone and convincing people that my coming here and being editor is not a retreat,” he told me. “I continue to see the Los Angeles Times as a paper with its own foreign and national staff that will also cover local situations more aggressively. I don’t see the diminishment of the Los Angeles Times in any way at all. Not only will it remain a great newspaper, but a premiere information source for online and in print for this incredible city. So there’s no real reasons to leave.” Stay tuned.
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