TJ Simers, the longtime columnist at the Los Angeles Times, has been rumored to be leaving the paper most of the summer. Over the weekend we wrote about the rumors that he was close to moving to the Orange County Register. Nothing has been officially announced, but Simers emailed The Big Lead on Monday to explain his decision-making process.
Here’s his email in full, unedited:
tj simers here
I saw your story.
I had the opportunity to remain at the Times as Page 2 columnist, including a recent offer of a guaranteed contract.
But I was overwhelmed by the exictement I felt at the Orange County Register and the crusader-like effort to prove newspapers still matter. In my initial meeting with the paper’s top editors they were aware of the best newspaper movie ever made: Deadline USA and wanted to talk about Mike Royko. I might’ve agreed to work for nothing, but they have decided to actually pay me.
I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. I got to know John Wooden and Vin Scully up close and personal. I loved my time with Jeff Kent, Phil Jackson and Salma Hayek. I had the chance to do something far more important than write a sports column and that was raise money for sick kids at Mattel Children’s Hospital until Times’ management said it wasn’t my job to help the misfortunate.
I had my differences with Times’ management, the outside influence of Frank McCourt being one of the them, but I owe the Times gratitude for giving me the chance to to go bizarre on Page 2.
The Times still offers a terrific newspaper, but there is a feeling there that the newspaper is dead and most efforts should be directed to the Internet while waiting to see who buys the paper. Just too many empty desks.
The Register experiment to beef up the paper reminds me of the thrill I felt when I got into this business. As Sandy Koufax’s grandfather told him, “Time is the most important thing you have in life.” And I choose to spend it now with folks eager to still have some fun as newspaper men and women.
I would hope everyone would now start reading the Register—at the very least to save newspapers as we remember them.
So there you have it straight from the source. Something official on this should probably be announced soon enough..