The Richmond Times-Dispatch canned 29 reporters, editors, photographers and graphic artists in its news division this week as part of the elimination of 90 jobs at the state’s largest newspaper.

Among those fired were long-time friend and former FCHS classmate Randy Hallman, the deputy sports editor, and Rex Bowman, the paper’s Roanoke-based Southwestern Virginia reporter. They’re the latest friends to hit the streets in the ongoing purge of talent from newspapers around the country in these grim economic times.

Randy had 37 years at the T-D and a national reputation for his coverage of NASCAR. But such things don’t matter when bean counters run the show..

The failing economy, however, was not the factor over at the The Roanoke Times, where the powers that be forced reporter Tim Thornton to resign without, according to published reports, telling him exactly why he was getting the ax.

The New River Valley Voice reported on Wednesday:

Trouble began brewing for Thornton a week ago when he was taken off the Radford University beat. Thornton said he was then told “to not come into work this week” and his status would be discussed on Monday, April 6. But it was then requested that Thornton come into the office for a meeting yesterday.

Thornton was told by New River Valley bureau chief Chris Winston and Roanoke Times Editor Carole Tarrant that they had conducted an investigation that had turned up information that had caused them to doubt his judgment and objectivity. Thornton said he asked what information that was and Tarrant responded, “This is not a discussion.”

Thornton is an award-winning reporter honored by the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Virginia Press Association. The Times, sadly, has chosen to not inform its readers of its actions.

(Updated on April 5, 2009)