As noted below by Scott, William Lobdell has left the Los Angeles Times. And, as Scott noted, Lobdell was no ordinary reporter–the man was a multiple-award-winning titan, one of the best religion reporters ever to grace American newspapers, and definitely the best in covering the Gospel Swamp that is Orange County. He left the religion beat last year, sickened by the county's many Pharisees. Now, Orange County has no full-time reporter covering religion at the Times or the Orange County Register–Orange County, California, home to Schuller, Warren, Crouch, Calvary Chapel, Goat Boy, Robert Fuller and so many other major figures in American Christianity I devoted an entire chapter to them in my upcoming history of Orange County (couldn't resist a plug–sorry!).
I emailed Lobdell–who's also the voice of reason in between Orange County Register editorial writer Steven Greenhut and myself on the bi-Thursday at 10:30 a.m. segment on KPCC-89.3's AirTalk with Larry Mantle–for comment. Ever the gentleman, he responded thusly:
Sadly, I raised my hand to be laid off. It was a very difficult decision; I always believed I would retire at The Times. As a second-generation Timesman, my love for the newspaper was deeply rooted, and I had found my dream job. I couldn't wait to come to work each day, and I was always proud to tell people what I did for a living. The job
was so fun and rewarding that I often couldn't believe I actually got paid to do this.
But I've recently and reluctantly concluded that the risk of staying at the paper had become greater than the risk of leaving (which is saying something). I have a wife and four boys who depend on me, and it was time to pull the ripcord for their sake and mine.
This major curve in my career has left me with a mix of feelings: sadness, anger, depression, fear, adventure and excitement. I'm not sure what the future will look like, but I've got several irons in the fire, along with my book (“Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America”) from HarperCollins coming out in February. Anyone who wants to contact me (for high-paying jobs or just to say hi), can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're going to miss you, Bill, and will be the first person in line at your coming booksigning. As for Times owner Sam Zell, to paraphrase his own couplet:
FUCK YOU ZELL, GO TO HELL.