In a move that should send a shiver down the spine of any wine writer, the Los Angeles Times, reportedly losing money hand over fist, is laying off 150 editorial staff including its wine writer, the excellent and unusually creative Corie Brown.
Although the Central Coast wine region is just up the road and in full flowering, helped not least by the Sideways effect, the paper has decided that it will no longer cover wine except for the occasional business section story. Such wine stories in the Food section as may ever appear will be commissioned from a freelance writer - so much cheaper than maintaining the luxury of a wine specialist on the staff.
The LA Times has had a chequered history with its wine writers, famously publishing a series of articles many years ago which effectively exposed its own wine correspondent as corrupt. Then, from 1988 to 1996, Dan Berger occupied the role. Corie brought a pure journalist's sensibility to the topic, while clearly becoming increasingly fascinated by it - not unlike San Francisco-based Julia Flynn Siler of the Wall Street Journal, who recently wrote The House of Mondavi. Fifty editorial job losses have just been announced at the WSJ.
Perhaps our west coast editor Linda Murphy was no fool to quit as wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle when she did.
Shut that door! It's a chill wind...