Five Questions with a Times buyoutee

Award-winning features writer Roy Rivenburg was one of two OC-based Los Angeles Times staffers who took the buyout, ending a decade and a half at the paper. (The other was Mai Tran.) Today, we quizzed him on the decision to kiss the LAT goodbye:

Soooo . . . why'd ya do it?

A combination of wanting to take a sabbatical and try something new, the state of the newspaper industry in general, and the state of the LA Times in particular.

How do you plan to deal with the withdrawal (assuming you experience any)?

So far, no twinges of regret or withdrawal symptoms.

What was the severance package like?

One week of pay and benefits for every six months at the paper. I worked at the Times for almost 15 years—13 in features and two in OC, plus another year freelancing for features and the paper's late great San Diego edition.

What kind of advice would you give folks trying to cover the county?

The city of Irvine plans to spend more than $1 billion transforming part of the old El Toro Marine Corps base into a big park. That kind of money inevitably produces good investigative stories.

What was your favorite story?

I have a lot of favorite stories (like interviewing Jackie Stallone's psychic dogs and covering a weird UFO convention in the Nevada desert), but topping the list is my exposé on the phony World War II claims of Michel Thomas, a language instructor to the stars who led an interesting life but exaggerated and lied about some of his accomplishments. Stories like that are why I got into journalism.


Roy tells us he'll still be writing in some capacity. But perhaps after a few months of delightful nothingness.

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