Jan 14, 2009

Another departure at the DJ*

Los Angeles Daily Journal entertainment reporter Noah Barron sent his colleagues an e-mail today announcing that Jan. 28 will be his last day on the job. Barron's departure comes roughly a month after associate editor Alan Mittelstaedt quit - Barron attended USC's graduate school of journalism, where Mittelstaedt teaches. From the e-mail: "I totes (sic) wish we could gather ourselves all up into a big group-hug news Web startup and make Alan editor. Maybe we can someday."

*Alan Mittelstaedt shares a few thoughts about the state of the newsroom at the Daily Journal in the comments section.


Alan Mittelstaedt said...

I can't remain silent any longer.

Noah's an outstanding reporter and writer, and it's sad that he's leaving the paper. It wasn't too long ago that any newsroom in the country would die for a dozen energetic and creative writers just like him and the rest of his colleagues at the Daily Journal.

Noah's fascinated by science, technology and the law, among other things; his diverse range would be welcome at any paper striving to be on the cutting edge of legal coverage in a demanding market like Los Angeles.

Why is such a talent as Noah packing his bags?

I urge the paper's top management to do some soul-searching -- and go online today to enroll in an intensive management training course at Poynter or somewhere else. Learn the basic rules of civility and leadership that inspires.

In the meantime, start treating every writer with respect. Stop screaming, and start listening. Stop writing reporters up for minor mistakes, and start sending notes of thanks. Offer constructive criticism, not personal attacks. (By the way, such attacks are lawsuit bait.)

As I told David Houston in one of our final meetings, I have never witnessed a supervisor with a more demeaning, abusive style in my 29 years in this business. (And I've encountered some contenders in my day.) I couldn't tolerate or condone his Pleistocene-era style and left the paper at the end of the year.

The Daily Journal's filled with talented writers. Noah is one of the best of the best. He's too young to be leaving a paper that so sorely needs his enterprising talents right now.

Let's hope changes can be made to keep others from wanting to follow him.

Anonymous said...

The LA Daily Journal has only one interest; to cut costs. They know there are no competitors for legal coverage in LA (sorry Met News) so they treat anyone who has experience or talent like they are expendable. And they are. The publisher, Jerry Salzman, is the real evil behind the cuts. He couldn't care less about the level of coverage; he just wants to make more money for his owner, multi-millionaire lawyer Charlie Munger. Salzman installs a parade of editors to do his bidding and, when they resist, he fires them. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Last comment is right on the nose. But Salzman's 2008 compensation was obscene at expense of the little guys ---->>>> $1.8 million.


Anonymous said...

Holy shit! $1.8 million for a small-circ, specialty paper(s) like that?!

Notice his salary is $250k and his BONUS is $400k. The rest is some earnings-dependent incentive compensation plan, which is apparently available to other employees. Sixty-seven percent of 2008's compensation from the plan FOR THE WHOLE COMPANY went to Salzman.

While the compensation committee did not undertake a comparison of Mr. Salzman’s compensation to amounts paid by other companies to their chief executive officers, the committee members did utilize in their determination of Mr. Salzman’s compensation their collective current and past experience as directors and executive officers of numerous companies, and their subjective judgments about the performance of the Company and Mr. Salzman in light of the highly competitive market conditions in the publishing and case management software businesses.

Anonymous said...

Im glad Saltzman is comfortable. Meanwhile, DJ reporters don't have dental insurance or a 401K

Anonymous said...

There's no job security either. I've known some who've worked diligently for 30-some years there, and they get yanked for economic reasons. That's how you make $1.8 mill a year. Fuck the little guy.

Anonymous said...

You know, the legal notice racquet should go away. Kill the law, put everything on the Internet. Papers like the Daily Journal, and all their other scam legal-notice papers, should just disappear. Why does this company really exist? The Daily Journal has a big carbon footprint.

Anonymous said...

The DJ isn't a "legal notice racquet" paper. People pay a lot of money to get this paper, and it's staffed with young talented reporters. The company's other publications... well they're another story.

Anonymous said...

There's something about the LA Daily Journal culture that brings out the asshole in almost everyone. I haven't worked there in years but still have occasional nighmares that I never left.
For those of you who more recently left, if you're not happy you left right now, you will be. And you'll eventually have a great time telling crazy stories about the LADJ.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to those who can afford to walk away from a decent journalism job on a point of principle. Those of us who live in the real world aren't so lucky.

Anonymous said...

Really, the newspaper is a legitimate way to sell legal notices for all the hundreds of city and county agencies that need to fulfill there print advertising obligations.

That is the only reason Daily Journal, and all its sexy sister publications, continues to exist.

It is the same reasoning that the MetNews exists.

Most attorneys read Law.com, and the judges and old-timers stick with MetNews.com.

Daily Journal -- along with the MetNews and all of the little BS pspers that litter the state -- should have gone away along time ago ... perhaps with the ole Evening Outlook with its late stocks report. Or maybe the Herald-Examiner's bulldog edition.

Anonymous said...

The Daily Journal is a hell-hole, run by a dictatorial swine whose tactics are the stuff tht gave birth to the labor laws. Here is a man who occupies all the positions - President, CEO, CFO, Corporate Secretary, Treasurer etc.etc. and what's more he is in poor health. Where is there a successor? This is a publicly quoted corporation, for God's sake.

Anonymous said...

An earlier contributor to this blog highlighted that the evil Salzman's take was 67% of the total amount paid annually in compensation and that is to a workforce of approx 250 people. That 67% did not, I'm sure, include the salaries paid to his wife (Dorothy), his two sons (Brian and one who works for a subsidiary) and his step son Peter Daum (head of IT). Factor in these, that 67% will come out at around 80%. And the generous Munger .. with all his tax deducible publicity seeking donations - why not put the DJ staff's salary on a par with those who work at Munger Olsen? Former editors like Dewey and Berg went out to support and protect their people. Not so, this toady, duplicitous sycophant Houston.

Maria said...

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Anonymous said...

This was indeed the absolute worst job I've ever worked out, and the employees were treated so poorly I was shocked. No dental insurance, no 401K, ONE sick day accrued every three months, and no drinking water in the kitchen except for an antiquated rusty drinking fountain that no one would dare to drink, thus everyone brings their own water to work. Its enough to make you cry.

One employee who had been there for over twenty years took a leave after being diagnosed with cancer and upon return, was stripped of his/her benefits of 20 years and treated as if he/she had just started.

Salzman is evil and greedy, Berg did little to make it any better and Houston does even less but complain about the little things.

Leaving the DJ was the absolute best decision of my entire life.

Anonymous said...

Hello from the future! It's 2018, and just wanted to let y'all know that NOTHING has changed at the Daily Journal!

Surprise, surprise... that soul-searching didn't happen and Houston is still a nasty little finger puppet. NOTHING has changed, I repeat, NOTHING has changed. Global warming could submerge the earth and Houston would still be screaming at reporters from a life raft. The San Andreas Fault could open up directly beneath the building and he would find a way to pull everyone deeper into the crater. A massive conflagration could break out and Houston would simply giggle and dance in the flames in a little red jammie-suit while seizing his pitchfork to poke every reporter in the ass.

But you know, maybe he'll get around to that soul-searching any minute now.