In your mercenary Thursday media column: Fortune this round from Forbes, layoffs at the LA Times, a BBC reporter is killed, the NYT turns to Groupon, Al Sharpton is pushing it, and new journalism grows from the cracks.

  • Fortune has dropped a scathing story about the awful finances at Forbes magazine, Fortune's biggest competitor. Good for them! It ain't journalistic malfeasance if it's factual. (On a purely factual level, this story is an informative look at the perils of media investing in general, and at the perils of running a successful business magazine during a recession, in particular.) Steve Forbes responded with an employee memo assuring his staff that everything is fine and trying to frame the story as a competitive move. Yeah, you lose this round, Steve. Remember your political career? Like that.
  • Bloodbath at the LA Times! Tim Rutten, a longtime veteran of the paper and, until recently, one of America's half-dozen working media reporters, has been laid off, along with more than a dozen others. In 2009 that many layoffs wouldn't have made us blink, but these days it's a pretty awful sign. Especially considering all those rumors about how Tribune Co. might want to sell the paper off. In any case, good luck to all of the departed. We hope you wrung some severance out of the bastards.
  • BBC reporter Ahmed Omed Khpulwak has died in a "coordinated bomb and gun attack" by the Taliban that killed 22 people in Afghanistan.
  • The New York Times is now selling subscriptions via Groupon. Print is dead joke/ NYT joke/ Groupon joke/ Journalism joke. I'm paid fairly, but not quite generously enough to go to the trouble of making an actual joke here.
  • Al Sharpton was great as a presidential debate spoiler. But Al Sharpton is so far away from even the loosest formulation of "journalist" that even MSNBC should perhaps be a bit worried about the slope down which they're gleefully sliding.
  • Look, this post has almost 120 comments now. Journalism lives.

[Photo: AP]