yesterday amber an i went to the LA Times because we learned that there were only two official tours remaining of the building before the paper moves to El Segundo.
thankfully my boss understood that im insane and the only days off that i want are for weird things like this and not trips to maui.
but to get a tour of a fascinatingly rich and complex building like the LA Times from a 40-year veteran of the paper like Darrell Kunitomi is a priceless gift.
he has seen it all, met everyone, worked with everyone, and experienced all the very high highs and extremely low lows of the greatest paper west of Manhattan.
it was a bittersweet tour because with every fact, photograph, and piece of equipment was an asterisk that said THIS TOO WILL BE GONE WHEN THEY MOVE.
the root of the problem was executive after executive from Chicago has done its best to ruin the LA Times, plunder its riches, lay off its people, and finally sell its majestic building and hoard the profits.
so now the paper is a tenant in a building that they also share with the likes of Uber(!) and they are forced to pay $2 million a month in rent. meanwhile the new owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong owns a building by LAX and he would rather spend millions renovating it so that the paper can work in a modern place… rent free.
because life is crazy, it just so happened that Dr. Patrick (as people now call him) was in the building yesterday because he was officially announcing the sale and the new Executive Editor. the newsroom was joyous with anti-Tronc signs, cake, and bubbly.
the tour was not allowed to join in the celebration, as this was their moment, which is understandable, but damn did i want to be in there with some of my former colleagues. The Mayor even showed up.
i did splinter off from the group when we made it to the Entertainment section which is where the Sports Dept used to be. Gerrick Kennedy, Randall Roberts, and Alison Dingeldein all greeted me and i got to chat briefly with my pal Todd Martens.
when we finished the tour Amber and I were filled with emotion because… that’s it. That cool building will be ruined, basically, with stupid condos or offices that will not change the city the way a 100+ year old paper can. and all the memories that people with way more time spent on Spring Street will be heard and not seen.
so we went to the nearby Redwood Bar, where Timesmen and Timeswomen have escaped to since the days of rotary phones. and there we hid out in the dark, listening to classic rock, and eating fish tacos.
i love the LA Times so much and the people who made it and make it what it was and is and it’s so sad that this sad story never ends. even with a prince of a billionaire trying to make things better. maybe it will be better. maybe the new place will be a turning point.