Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Man Behind the Curtain

Today, a personal note. I've been doing this site for nearly three years under the name "The Wiz." My anonymity ends today.

Monday at 1:52 p.m., I received a message on my cell phone. The caller I.D. was "blocked," and my instincts told me this was not a good thing. It was after all Black Monday, a day of 150 or more editorial layoffs at the Los Angeles Times where I have worked in Sports for nearly two decades.

The message was from Melissa McCoy of the Times: " I need to talk with you."

The executioner was waiting.

About 30 minutes later, I learned that "my position" had been eliminated.

"I'm sorry I couldn't do this face-to-face ... these are trying economic times ... you'll be receiving a packet in the mail," she said, apparently reading from a prepared statement.

I asked when I could clean out my desk. Arrangements were made and now, like it or not, I'm moving forward.

Journalism is a career I have cherished since my first newspaper job at 16. The downward spiral of the newspaper business has helped me prepare for this day. But it still feels like my best friend just died.

I've kept this site under wraps from all except a handful of confidants. I've spoken of the site publicly only on Sports Byline, the weekly radio show in which I participate.

But, hey, the Wiz is now a free agent. Anyone have a lead on a good gig? Here are my details.

30 comments:

insomniac said...

Best of luck to ya. I know the market sucks right now, but with your research and writing skills, I'm sure you'll land on your feet.

In the meantime, I'll make sure to click a google link on my way out tonight, so that's like a nickel in your pocket right there.

Snead said...

bummer.

The State (Columbia, SC) just lost its most veteran sports editor (well, technically he "retired") and it makes me wonder how papers plan to survive by cutting their talent instead of cutting the fat.

Good luck and keep us posted, hopefully this will lead to bigger and better.

-a huge fan

Jim Harbaugh Scramble said...

Sorry to hear it, Wiz.

Hope you land on your feet.

Keep up the good work on the site.

Anonymous said...

Good luck WIZ!

gerry dorsey said...

damn bro, that sucks. best of luck in your search. keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear this. I love the wiz and read it every morning. Hope you can keep it going.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your work. It's been a real pleasure. Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

The paper continues to flounder, but you my friend are getting better with each year. Their loss, and best wishes for a continued expansion of the Wiz Empire!

Ziller said...

Wiz,

Best of luck. We know you'll land on your feet.

Max said...

Jay - the best of luck to ya! You're a terrific scribe! Loved your writing in LAT (thanks, homie!), but the best you saved for the Wizard! Thanks again! good luck! and keep it going!
Max

Mike said...

Wiz - I'm sure you'll find quality online content opportunities, with your strong resume... good luck!

We Are...Penn State email list said...

"I'm sorry I couldn't do this face-to-face...these are trying economic times...you'll be receiving a packet in the mail," she said, apparently reading from a prepared statement.

I was downsized once, but at least my boss told me to my face instead of hiding behind someone in HR who, in turn, hid behind the phone. Shame on the Times for being so gutless.

Jay, I'm sorry this happened, but I know you'll be fine. You understand and have already embraced the changing landscape of journalism. Now go make the best of it!

TCOAN said...

You know, the only thing sadder to me than the decline of print newsmedia is the sloughing off of so many talented journalists in the process.

Yes, the industry is flailing in deep, cold water without a boat in sight, but why has it suddenly decided that letting go of its life jacket is a good idea?

For what it's worth, I've always enjoyed your writing, and I wish you the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Melissa McCoy isn't HR; she's got a masthead title and is Jay's boss's boss.

Erik said...

You're one of the best in this blogging world with timely, highly informative and always interesting stuff. You'll be just fine.

Keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing what you can do with a little extra time this preseason! Enjoy the break, buddy.

Anonymous said...

Wiz,

You are tremendously talented and they are crazy to let you go. You will be better off. Persevere.

--A loyal fan

Anonymous said...

The LAT shows zero compassion by firing dedicated employees over the phone. Anyone who agrees to do that is cold-hearted. Regardless of one's title. In this case, Melissa McCoy is among those editors who follow orders regardless of ethics involved.

-a reader

We Are...Penn State email list said...

Melissa McCoy isn't HR; she's got a masthead title and is Jay's boss's boss.

Thanks for the clarification. It's still a gutless move to fire someone in any way other than face-to-face, especially when you're dealing with professionals.

DT said...

Good Luck to you...I hope you will still be able to keep the site going strong. I don't comment much, but I visit daily and I love the work you do here. Keep it up!

Trojan rim rat said...

J-Bird,

Haven't seen you since the Her-Ex died, and now I find you doing a very fine blog on the only sport that matters in the US. Damn, dude.

I have this overwhelming urge to hit Corky's and get so drunk I contemplate hitting on Betty. Game?

Kevin Donahue said...

That totally blows. If you get down to FL this year, let's get a beer or three.

alexezell said...

Good luck to you. Please don't stop working on the blog! This is, by far, the best college football blog on the web. Thanks for all of your hardwork.

Jason said...

Wiz, best of luck to you. Like others have mentioned, your writing skills will prevail in the end.

We appreciate the hard work you've put into your site over the years and look forward to more of the good stuff.

Ed Gunther said...

Sorry to hear, Jay. You do great work here, and I'm sure you'll find something bigger & better. Best of luck -

blackjack said...

Hey Jay,

I was really bummed to hear that, but hey, you're the best in the business and I know for a fact you'll land on your feet. Keep at it.

-Andy (Gutty Little Bruins)

Vance said...

Can't you pool some resources and buy the LA Times?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Bruce Feldman reveal your name last season?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for everything & best of luck to you. As much as I hate L.A. Times, Ive enjoyed your work immensely.

BCS Guru said...

Somehow I missed this thread until today ... My bad.

Jay, so sorry to hear the news, but I want you to know that you have my support and I'll keep my eyes and ears open for you.

The newspaper business is circling the drain. You'll be better off getting out in the nick of time.

Best of luck and I'll be in touch.

MsLitigious said...

Jay Jay,

This is a blessing in disguise. Just the little push you needed. I've told you for years that the LA Times was not good enough for you and they were damn lucky to have you. Their loss! You will now have the time to pursue bigger and better dreams. FYI, do not sign any documents given to you by the Times until you have them reviewed by counsel. Love you, Rhonda