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Ex-LA Times Writer Mark Heisler Vents Again About Tribune

He writes a supposedly personal essay, but still points out many of the negative recent changes at the paper

Long-time L.A. Times sports writer Mark Heisler signed a termination agreement prohibiting him from disparaging or denigrating his former employer after he was laid off last month.

So just imagine what he would say about his former employer if he didn't have that restriction hanging over his head.

The former NBA columnist, who already sent a note to the popular journalism blogger Jim Romenesko about his departure, has weighed in on the L.A. Times and the state of the newspaper business again in a 3,400-word “personal story” for TruthDig.

Also read: Ex-LA Times Writer Mark Heisler: Paper's Awfully Good at Dumping People

Titled "Confessions of a Dead Tribune," the essay touches on everything from the unfortunate ownership of Sam Zell to the present state of journalism to his political affiliation. It praises the Times’ history and many of Heisler's former colleagues while shuddering at what the paper has become.

“If our challenge was to get better when TV took the games away from us and the Internet beat the delivery time of our reportage by 12 hours, we got smaller and thinner, which was inevitable as ads declined, and worse, which wasn’t,” Heisler wrote.

Also read: L.A. Times Cuts Veteran Writers Tim Rutten, Mark Heisler, Jerry Crowe

Heisler points out a variety of sad developments at the Times — earlier deadlines that inhibit reporting, restrictions on political advocacy in one’s personal life and even limits on how much one can write about a certain subject.

Heisler, for example, wanted to write more about the Los Angeles Lakers’ ownership and management situation, but it seems no one at the paper wanted to offend Jim Buss, son of Lakers’ owner Jerry.

And he wanted to freelance for Truthdig, a progressive web magazine, and the paper eventually let him continue to do so, but only after telling him to stop.

Also Read: L.A. Times Charts Promising Online Growth — But Where's the Money?

Heisler compliments the Times’ sports section, but refers to both Zell and his lieutenant Lee Abrams as “daffy,” a rather tame invective. He ends on a somewhat optimistic note, focusing more on the importance of newspapers for their sense of perspective while decrying the sensationalism of most modern media platforms.