In a couple of years when the largest paper west of the Mississippi is relegated to nothing more than a news website, they'll be asking how a once proud and highly profitable operation was destroyed. While I can't comment on the overall operation (LAObserved has covered it well), one department near and dear to this blog has been recklessly destroyed.
Thomas Bonk, a 27-year staffer was part of this week's staff buyouts, leaving us with just a handful of newspapermen and women covering golf. Bonk had been covering golf full-time for at least 12 years by my faulty memory count.
Here's what's most astounding about this: the most famous athlete in the world and one of the planet's most visible human-beings is Tiger Woods. He is a southern California native and part-time resident who hosts a tournament here, where, incidentally, the Los Angeles Times is published.
Along with the AP's Doug Ferguson, no writer was more consistently breaking news or demonstrating some form of access to Team Woods than Bonk. And recently, Bonk was regularly breaking news and offering important information related to the game with a weekly online column. For a paper that has touted its need to be breaking news online and in general beefing up its website coverage, Bonk delivered. It makes little sense that you would release someone fulfilling the stated mission, particularly someone with access to and a relationship with one of the world's most newsworthy and inaccessible figures.
And remember, this is a paper with six sports columnists. Not one has a clue about golf.
Peter Yoon, a talented and developing golf writer, was a victim of an earlier staff purge. The only other Times staffer capable of covering golf is Chris Dufresne, one of the top college football writers in the land who better serves the paper taking advantage of his arsenal of sources covering college football or his old beat, college basketball.
Of course, this is a paper that just fired one of its two primary film critics and numerous talented entertainment writers in the same town where there's a multi-billion dollar industry called Hollywood, so I suppose the beat writers for UCLA basketball and USC football might just be doomed too.