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Tribune Company Consolidation Leaves Out the LA Times: Is a Sale On the Way?

Tribune Company announced some major consolidations in its publishing division today. Four major publishing jobs were just axed– executive vice president of Tribune Publishing Bob Gremillion, senior vice president of financial operations Harry Amsden, senior vice president of publishing strategy Naomi Sachs and Mike Gart, chief financial officer of Tribune Media Services–and were put in the hands of the Chicago Tribune Media Group’s publisher and chief executive–now Tribune Co. publishing division CEO–Tony Hunter.

Hunter’s new responsibilities will include manning the print and digital operations of the Sun Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, The Morning Call and the Daily Press in Virginia. Noticeably absent from the centralized operation is the LA Times, which will remain under the control of president and chief operating officer Kathy Thomson.

This led the Wall Street Journal to wonder whether the Times is being shopped around.

Tribune put most of its major dailies under one umbrella, and conspicuously left the Los Angeles Times as its own entity with a separate executive overseer.

If Tribune wanted to sell the Los Angeles Times — and suitors have circled the newspaper in the past — the company may have created a perfect structure in which to do so.

One big caveat: The LA Times because of reasons of history and business decisions, recently has operated separate and distinct from the rest of its corporate brethren. The rest of the Tribune papers were pushed to share more content and editorial resources; Los Angeles was more or less spared from those orders from Chicago HQ.

Or it could just be that Eddy Hartenstein, now in control of the Tribune Company, didn’t want to screw up the recovery of his old paper–which is finally getting its act together after years of abuse under Sam Zell.

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