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Posts Tagged ‘David Hiller’

A Closer Look at Dean Baquet

DeanBaquetPicWhen a huge media story like today’s New York Times shake-up breaks, the second place we turn – after Twitter – is the FishbowlNY archives.

It was Wall Street Journal reporter Sarah Ellison who, in the fall of 2006, broke the story of Dean Baquet‘s ouster from the LA Times. When Jones appeared on a KCRW radio show with LAObserved’s Kevin Roderick to chat about it all, they deemed the replacement of Baquet as EIC by James O’Shea to be a victory of “Tribune culture over LAT culture.” Not exactly an auspicious quote all these Sam Zell-years later.

Los Angeles magazine subsequently rounded up five LA Times editors to talk about the state of the Spring Street union. Here’s a quote from Baquet:

“The 20 percent of my time that I spent dealing with a bad publisher — and I mean David Hiller, not Jeffrey Johnson — was not the dominant part of my day. I spent most of my time with a newsroom that really wanted to change and do great stuff. I brainstormed ideas with a staff that wanted leadership, and for a brief moment it seemed as if we could be the best paper in the country.”

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LAT in 90 Seconds — Making The News Edition

41006806.jpgHiller High-tails It: Michael A. Hiltzik has the unenviable task of writing about David Hiller‘s departure, using a bit of info gleaned from his own inbox for the story: “A statement he e-mailed to Times staff suggested that he was ousted by Tribune Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Zell: ‘Sam’s the boss and he gets to pick his own quarterback.’”

41006806.jpgDoing Our Job: The LAT blog now posts the same stuff we do — internal memos of resignation that were never really intended for public consumption. Hmm. Newspapers imitating bloggers… no wonder they’re going out of business.

41006806.jpgHeard It There First: The LAT tackles reporting of its own demise … by linking to those reports from other publications.

Tales of the Tribune Co.: Hiller and Lipinski Out

lattrib.pngRumors were flying this morning that Los Angeles Times publisher and CEO David Hiller was about to be shown the door by Zell and Co. and now it’s official. Randy Michaels (he of the more words, less reporters doctrine) just announced Hiller’s departure, effective immediately. FishbowlLA has the memo. Hiller was presumably preparing to oversee the sweeping cuts that were made at LAT last month, and which are apparently being put into effect as we speak (again, FishbowlLA has details here) Perhaps a trip to India will be included in all the severance packages.

Elsewhere in Tribune land Ann Marie Lipinski, who began her tenure at the Chicago Tribune as an intern thirty years ago, and was named editor shortly before 9/11, has announced her resignation in a memo to staff today. Lipinski doesn’t directly reference the recent staff cuts at the Tribune as reason for her decision but does tells the staff that “your new owners should have their own editor, compatible with their style and goals” (also, the same line of thinking used by departing WaPo head Len Downie). Gerould W. Kern, Tribune Publishing vice president of editorial since 2003 has been named as her successor.

BREAKING: David Hiller Resigns

Randy Michaels sends this e-mail to LAT staffers (well, the ones who are left, anyway):

I want to let you know that David Hiller has decided to step down as publisher of The Los Angeles Times, effective immediately. David took over as publisher in October 2006, during a difficult period for the newspaper and has performed with distinction since that time. During the last six months, he has helped The Times begin making the transition to new ownership, facing new realities. Part of that transition must now include a new publisher.

We are already in the process of identifying the right person to lead The Times going forward. We expect to name a new publisher by the end of the summer. In the meantime, executive vice president and chief administrative officer Gerry Spector and I will oversee all operations at The Times. Russ Stanton and his team are well underway with their work on the redesign of the paper and that work will, of course, continue at a quick pace.

The Los Angeles Times is a great newspaper with a talented and dedicated staff. Let’s do everything we can to keep it focused on future success.

Randy

[Update: FBNY summarizes today's dizzying news here.]

LAT To Cut 150 Jobs

LAT staffers were given this memo today:

Colleagues:

You all know the paradox we find ourselves in: Thanks to the Internet, we have more readers for our great journalism than at any time in our history. But also thanks to the Internet, our advertisers have more choices, and we have less money. Add to that a poor economy, particularly for us in the California housing market, and you quickly see why a wave of cutbacks has swept through newsrooms this year from New York to Santa Ana.

We are not immune. As David Hiller mentioned in his memo last week we are embarking on another round of cost cutting. I deeply regret to report we will be reducing the size of our editorial staff, both print and Web, by a total of 150 positions, and reducing the number of pages we publish each week, by about 15%.

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Changes at Los Angeles Times Magazine

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The name may change or it may not. The editorial control may shift. The plan is still influx. They really don’t know much yet, as apparent in this NY Times piece.

What was made clear is that no jobs are on the chopping block.

Man bites dog.

[UPDATE: Here's the memo Russ Stanton sent around the newsroom earlier today:]

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Former LAT Editors Speak Out

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Los Angeles Magazine speaks to five former editors of the LAT about what the paper was like then – and where it’s going today. The overall picture is as grim as you’d expect: The good old days are good and dead and the industry is headed to hell in a handbasket. All that. Funny thing is, we remember some of these guys, and there were as many gripes during their tenures as now.

Shelby Coffey III for instance can wax poetic all day about the “tremendously stimulating time” he had as editor-in-chief from ’89-’97 and all the bureaus and new editions that were added under his watch. But let’s not forget that many of those bureaus were ghosts towns by ’95 populated by quasi-legally employed “stringers.”

Michael Parks seems to benefit the most from 20/20 hindsight, even offering his perspective of how he’d run the paper in today’s climate: “You have to get more imaginative in your coverage choices. The Los Angeles Times should not run and hunt with The New York Times and The Washington Post. It’s sui generis. It needs to be reported, written, and edited for the people of Southern California.” He doesn’t mention any other innovative ways to increase the paper’s funding. We’re guessing that’s a sore subject.

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Ken Reich: L.A. Times Becoming A “Lauging Stock”

laughisssng.gifFormer L.A. Times editor Ken Reich has some harsh words for new head ed Russ Stanton and his policies — particularly the “cracking down” on using anonymous sources.

Reich notes that former LAT reporter Barry Bearak had a terrifically interesting account in the Sunday NYT of his imprisonment for publishing reports about the Zimbabwean election — stories dependent upon anonymous sources.

Reich gives Stanton credit for naming Davan Maharaj as managing editor, but otherwise dismisses everything the guy has done: “He continues to show his lack of intellect and sophistication. Under him, and his patron, David Hiller, the paper is slowly becoming a laughing stock.”

Slowly? As Kevin Roderick notes today, LAT has posted the biggest percentage drop of the top 10 U.S. papers. At least we’re lead in something.

Fired LAT Editor John Montorio: “It Was My Destiny”

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Ad Age reports that the American media work force is at a 15 year low–only 886,900 employed, thanks to the slumping newspaper industry.

And speaking of slumping–whole lot of changes at the LA Times. The LAT, with paid circulation less than that number above, is now helmed by Russ Stanton, who lost no time in kicking cranky features managing editor John Montorio to the curb. Nikki Finke approves, but he seemed to have some pals. Regina Schrambling, for one, which speaks volumes.

Publisher David Hiller is profiled in the NYT, where his enthusiasm for the LAT’s star on the Walk of Fame is used as an example of his lack of synch with editorial types. Cheezy as the “ceremony” may have been, at least he got out of the office. LAO shakes a veiny finger at Hiller’s “grabbing” of the paper’s Oscar tickets, which should have been donated to the homeless or kids living on Skid Row, no doubt. As if anyone in show biz cares who the editor of the paper may be.

John Kobin, in the NY Observer, takes a far keener interest in the LAT’s doings than anyone on this coast. He got Montoria to say he was surprised by the firing. That interview must have been a phoner, because how could he say that with a straight face?

David Hiller Posts The World’s Longest “Help Wanted” Ad

On his internal blog (remember that?), LAT publisher David Hiller enumerates the various qualities he’s looking for in a replacement editor-in-chief. (Our favorite part: “With me, as Sam says, no surprises. We need to communicate closely. Always tell me what you think, especially if you disagree. If we always agreed, we wouldn’t need both of us. Don’t be public when we disagree unless we talk about it first, or unless it’s your swan song.” Ouch.)

Hey, we hear N. Christian Anderson is available.

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