Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We Bid A Fond Adieu To Tony Dodero

I've written from time to time recently about the sad days at the Los Angeles Times and it's covey of community newspapers, including the Daily Pilot - our newspaper of record for a century.

Sam Zell bought the Tribune Companies, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs and Wrigley Field, plus other media assets - like our local KTLA, Channel 5. Ever since that acquisition Zell, who has no clue about how to actually run media companies, much less in these perilous times, has begun a herky-jerky process of devaluing those assets. I'm not sure how that makes any sense, but that's what he's doing.

For example, a year ago the Los Angeles Times newsroom was staffed by 1200 writers, editors, photographers and others so essential to the gathering and presentation of the news. Today it is under 650, with another 200 people to be turned loose this week.

Among those dedicated news folks being released this week is my friend, Tony Dodero, Director of News and Online at the Daily Pilot! After 18 years with the organization, Tony will walk out the door today for the final time and into a future with great uncertainty. Sadly, he's not alone in this situation these days.

You will recall that when Publisher Tom Johnson resigned in protest of the draconian cuts being manifested on the Times and it's subsidiaries earlier this year it was left to Dodero to grab the helm of the Daily Pilot and it's sister publications to try to keep them focused and functioning. He did a great job with a very difficult situation. His reward for this loyalty is a pink slip. Such is life at the Los Angeles Times these days.

Tony began at the Pilot as an intern for a few months almost 20 years ago, was offered a full-time job and progressed through the ranks as his talents were recognized. Over the years he's moved around through the Los Angeles Times organization with stops in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Santa Monica. He's built new organizations - the Times Community Newspapers were a group of 23 individual newspapers at one time. He became Editor of the Daily Pilot in 1999.

Throughout his career in the Los Angeles Times organization he became known as a tenacious reporter, excellent writer and editor and a superior manager. Along the way he has also become known as a good friend to many who have worked for and with him.

When it became obvious that the Daily Pilot needed to develop a better, more professional online presence Tony was the "go to" guy and he responded by creating an online entity that is excellent and serves it's readers well.


Throughout his career Tony has hired and nurtured some excellent young reporters and editors, most of whom have moved on to bigger things after earning their spurs at the Daily Pilot. This skill for recognizing and developing talent is one of Tony's strengths. For most of this decade he has taught a Beginning Journalism course at Orange Coast College, where he encouraged and educated young folks with an interest in journalism.

During a conversation today Tony told me that he will miss the people the most. He said he's enjoyed getting to know so many wonderful people over the years and especially enjoyed serving our community.

As if pouring that last grain of salt in an open wound, the powers-that-be at the Los Angeles Times have refused to let Tony write a parting column - a courtesy he, as Editor, has provided to many former staffers as they moved on. It's a shame they chose not to permit him to say thank you to the readers after all his years of exemplary service.
This is a perfect example of the callousness of those in charge of a once-great newspaper.

Since I began writing Letters to the Editor to the Daily Pilot early in 2001 I've gotten to know Tony Dodero and consider him a friend. He's blessed with a cadre of caring, supportive friends and a wonderful family. We know Tony will land on his feet. We thank him for his contributions to our community and wish him, and his family, only the best as he steps off into a new direction in his life.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a terrible development, and an awful way to dispose of a truly great community newsman. To not allow an exit editorial is callous and stupid - and a harbinger of times to come.

I will miss Tony, as I am sure will many others in the Times Community Newspapers community and Newport Mesa. Firtunately, we still ahve Brady and Paul, so the Pilot is in good hands - at least until Zell lets the next shoe drop...

10/21/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob, I agree. Brady is in charge and Paul's a good guy... however, there is only so much time in a day...

10/21/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

It's only a matter of time before they're sent packing, too. The LA Times (and by extension, the Pilot) is but a shadow of its former self under Otis Chandler.

10/21/2008 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Millard must be jumping with joy. That assumes of course that he has the physical strength to actually jump at his age. :)

This is sad; especially due to the years that Tony has put in with our community. I hope the Times has a good plan, because this looks an awful lot like a slow grind to oblivion to me.

I wonder how this plays into the new format announced this morning with my LA Times.

10/21/2008 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Careful, mesa verde madman, you're giving away your age - and mine, too. :-)

Bruce Krochman, it was an ironic bit of timing, huh? Stanton tells us what a wonderful new look is going to do for the Times at the exact time they layoff Tony. Watching the Times and other Tribune papers these days is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I just hope the Pilot survives these idiots. As our newspaper of record for a century, it would be a shame to have it disappear because a megalomaniac like Sam Zell doesn't understand the news business. Maybe some of the local high rollers should just buy the thing...

10/21/2008 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After checking the Pilot website and the Times website, there is nothing about Tony Dodero. Could you provide a link?

10/21/2008 05:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can believe the management of the Times/Pilot are just following the plan of shutting off the Pilot from our community. The failure to have a last article is just that political move which adds to the list of management foul-ups. It,s wierd that family,fairness and being a ' team " company, sure strikes ouy in this move.Make a homerun : DODERO :

10/21/2008 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

I'd say Stanton's announcement this morning is like putting lipstick on a pig, but that's been overdone by now. They've cut that paper to the bone editorially due to lack of advertising from the internet age, and I know people who have been directly impacted. Just another sign of the Times (pun intended); no newspapers are safe, and the format will be ever-evolving. Change or die, I suppose...very sad.

And even you know I'm not THAT old, Geoff!

10/21/2008 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Kent, the story will appear tomorrow... we scooped the world today on this one. There's also a story on the OC Weekly Navel Gazing section, including a very prescient comment by former Daily Pilot Editor Bill Lobdell. Here's the link to that one... you'll have to copy and paste into your browser window: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/a-clockwork-orange/goodbye-tony-d-and-the-pilot-t/#more

mesa verde madman, you're correct about the declining ad dollars. The economy is kicking all media right in the teeth. Car sales are way down, so car advertising is down. Home sales, while up in foreclosures, is down in new homes, which also means loss of advertising. Tony and his team did a great job of refining the web site and generating ads. Apparently, not enough. It's hard to figure the logic behind many of moves by LA Times top brass.

10/21/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Sorry, that link didn't transfer. Try this... copy and paste the first half, then the second half. Here are the two pieces:


Be sure they connect continuously at the -.

10/21/2008 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger Sez Me said...

You scooped nothing. Every major and minor media contact in OC and beyond knew of his fate at the same time you did, some before. That is not a scoop.

10/22/2008 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Anonymous "Sez Me", please demonstrate the accuracy of your comment...

10/22/2008 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Sez Me said...

I provided proof but you have not posted it. Giving you the benefit of the doubt that it was lost in cyberspace, here it is again: OC Weekly reported this news before you did. You did not scoop anything.

10/24/2008 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Sez Me, this is the only time that message arrived at this site. I don't need your "benefit of the doubt". And, you're correct, the OC Weekly did publish their piece about Dodero's departure before my post. I knew about it the night before but, in deference to Tony's wishes, didn't publish it until his final day. So, do you plan to do anything with your new blog, Newport-Mesa Report, or what?

10/24/2008 09:01:00 AM  

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