Leaving the L.A. Times


Today was my last official day at the Los Angeles Times after 10 years at the paper.

It was a sad thing. I’ve been a reporter for 27 years. I was very happy to have worked at what amounted to my hometown paper.

I’m very proud of the stories I produced while I was there (see below). But I decided it was time to move on, so I resigned.

Journalism, you may have heard, is changing, and I want to see if I can change with it. So I’m heading back to my freelancing roots.

I’ve got a heroin book to finish, then a podcast to start, my Tell Your True Tale workshops to teach, this blog to write — and other stuff. I hope you’ll follow it all as I wrestle with this grand experiment.

As these LAT farewell notes to colleagues have become almost a genre in themselves, I’ll add mine:

Adios Amigos –

Though I’ve been gone for many months writing a book about the (suddenly recognized) heroin epidemic in America, today is officially my last day at the paper.

It’s been great fun writing about Cambodian doughnut kings and palm-tree trimmers, Oaxacan hamburger chefs and stolen tubas, about transgender hookers and hellacious windstorms, kidnappers in Phoenix and Indian toothbrush gurus in Buena Park, about gangster matriarchs on Drew Street and the Mexican Mafia in every barrio around.

Such a great town. So many sublime stories to tell. …

 So here’s wishing you all the best.

 See you on the street, or wherever those stories happen.



Filed under California, Los Angeles, Storytelling, Writing

18 Responses to Leaving the L.A. Times

  1. Homie you are a true L.A. gem. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for your talent .I have learned so much about the city I call home for the past 20 years from the paper . And from many journalists like yourself that have gone on to other sucessful careers. I will look for your book it is important to support well written non fiction. I will buy a few copies and drop 2 off at our local libraries.
    May you look back and be glad to be where the road & the story takes you. I have 2 young journalists in my house & I too wonder where the new career paths will lead Best of Adventures to come ! Tara

  3. Valerie Tate

    Timing is everything. I’m sure you’ll do well in your future endeavors. Maybe I’ll see you at the border sometime. All my best.

  4. Suerte, Sam, and I am very much looking forward to reading your book.

  5. Barbara Kastelein

    Dear Sam, you are an inspiration to me and many others. As I finally finish my book on the Clavadistas de Acapulco (which you have always supported) I am surprised, and encouraged, by your leaving to freelance again. There is nothing like following one’s heart and instincts, and with hard work and integrity, like yours, this is quite compatible with being a spouse and parent. Doing what we believe in is a good legacy for our kids. As you say, onwards! Y felicidades, amigo. Barbara

  6. Norman

    Damn. The journey continues.

  7. Dear Sam; After a week’s shutdown for some unknown reason, Facebook works again in Vietnam, and the first thing I saw was your notice about your leaving. And this is the first time I’ve seen your webpage, embarrassed to say. Hell, you are one prolific guy! Plus a father and husband! Glad I know you. I’ve subscribed to your email list, and have it bookmarked, so I’ll be following along like the rest of your readers. Duane

    • Peter Roscoe

      I agree with Duanne Flanigan: Sam puts much dedication into his craft, I’m sure he will succeed in any medium he selects. Have you read his books?

      • Dear Peter; I’ve read two of Sam’s books, and used one of his stories in an English Class (the one about the ballad singer Saldingo, Salgado?). Got in trouble cause the Mexican VP at Malibu High School was a prude and didn’t like the violence, sex, and other details to the real story. One of those types of Mexicans one finds in LA and elsewhere who hate or distance themselves from their roots. Look at that fucking shit on the Supreme Court; The Black Justice who hates Blacks. Psychotic. Like Scalia, and the rest. Oh well…..Sam’s books are great! Hard to get books here in Vietnam. And the commie pinko corrupt gov’t here charges $50-$100. for any package from America, even though postage is already paid. Corrupt, Greedy, …shit…its everywhere in every country. I’m an atheist, but Sarah Palin is right about one thing, the end is coming……loved it all and will to the bitter end. Duane

  8. Christine Whittington

    Adios, Sam–hasta el libro!

  9. Dear Sam,
    I’ve never met you but your announcement that you are leaving the LA Times at first caused me some concern. After all, True Tales of Another Mexico was very important for me and served as a model for the commenter on things Mexican that I have become (I live in Guanajuato). You were also very supportive and wrote a blog for my novel Playing for Pancho Villa, for which I am very thankful. I count you right there with Richard Grabman at Editorial Mazatlán who, like you, is a keen observer of things on both sides of the border. You might check out his Mex Files. He writes on quirky stuff and knows a lot about Mexico (see his unique history Gods, Gachipines and Gringos). I have linked my own blog to this one: http://www.sterlingbennett.com. I am relieved to see that you’ll still be around and writing on the other Mexico, the other Los Angeles and Chicano life. Good luck in your new adventure. Sterling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.