Saturday, January 17, 2009

Comment from Alan Mittelstaedt

I can't remain silent any longer.

Noah's an outstanding reporter and writer, and it's sad that he's leaving the paper. It wasn't too long ago that any newsroom in the country would die for a dozen energetic and creative writers just like him and the rest of his colleagues at the Daily Journal.

Noah's fascinated by science, technology and the law, among other things; his diverse range would be welcome at any paper striving to be on the cutting edge of legal coverage in a demanding market like Los Angeles.

Why is such a talent as Noah packing his bags?

I urge the paper's top management to do some soul-searching -- and go online today to enroll in an intensive management training course at Poynter or somewhere else. Learn the basic rules of civility and leadership that inspires.

In the meantime, start treating every writer with respect. Stop screaming, and start listening. Stop writing reporters up for minor mistakes, and start sending notes of thanks. Offer constructive criticism, not personal attacks. (By the way, such attacks are lawsuit bait.)

As I told David Houston in one of our final meetings, I have never witnessed a supervisor with a more demeaning, abusive style in my 29 years in this business. (And I've encountered some contenders in my day.) I couldn't tolerate or condone his Pleistocene-era style and left the paper at the end of the year.

The Daily Journal's filled with talented writers. Noah is one of the best of the best. He's too young to be leaving a paper that so sorely needs his enterprising talents right now.

Let's hope changes can be made to keep others from wanting to follow him.

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