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L.A. Times Owners Fire Top Editors In Staff Shakeup

Pedestrians look at news photos posted outside the Los Angeles Times building downtown Los Angeles Monday, May 16, 2016.
Richard Vogel / Associated Press
Pedestrians look at news photos posted outside the Los Angeles Times building downtown Los Angeles Monday, May 16, 2016.
L.A. Times Owners Fire Top Editors In Staff Shakeup
L.A. Times Owners Fire Top Editors In Staff Shakeup GUEST: Ken Doctor, media columnist, Nieman Journalism Lab

A publishing company -- company is the parent company of the LA Times and the Union Tribune. In the age of Donald Trump, national newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post are so being a resurgence in readership. The LA Times has been working toward a heightened national profile. A shakeup in management at the paper has put that paper into question. Is a media columnist, he runs the website news and Onyx. Welcome to the program.It is good to be here.Do we know Tronc Inc went through what you call and an unprecedented purge ?This is result of a lot of history. Tronc Inc is under tremendous pressure. They are down in revenues. It is having a hard time. All newspapers companies are having a hard time. At the same time, the editor and publisher had pushed back against Tronc in the intrusions and the digital transformation ideas. This was a convenient time for them to make a change. At the same time, they have brought in Ross Levinsohn, who was an early fox digital leader, a well-respected guy in the field. He is the CEO of Yahoo and has done other pursuits. He is the latest in Tronc's ideas in turnaround. He will be paid more than $1 million a year, which is a lot of money for a newspaper publisher to turn around the enterprise. They see it as their opportunity to try to make the LA Times a global news enterprise.How many executives lost their jobs at the LA Times ?The LA Times, there were four top people in the newsroom plus two others. At the same time, it is buried in the press release, three top corporate executives were also let go. That is a sign of their need to cost cut even as they pay a high salary to Ross Levinsohn.To what you were saying about the ambitions of the new leadership at the LA Times, in the past few years, we have seen them invest highly in the Washington Post and they have grown revenues and both have broken major stories. At this point, how does the LA Times compare ?Clearly, and echelon below. The question you are raising is to questions. If you go back 20 or 30 years, the LA Times was mentioned in the same breath with the Washington Post and the New York Times. These were papers that had bureaus in Asia, Europe, Latin America. They served their own cities and states but they also had national and global reads. The Times has struggled but it has come out and emerge. The post is transforming. The times, having gone through the changes of the ownership and the Tronc , it has shriveled to 400 people in the newsroom. Really, it has lost a lot of its ambition beyond Los Angeles. Can it be done? Yes. It can be done. Jeff has provided the playback on how you do this. How do you invest in content and he is added almost 200 journalists and he has poured money into the future but he believes in the core journalism. The problem for Tronc is twofold. Money. It is a single class private company. It has to report to shareholders and there is no way to make that sizable investment and return money to the shareholders you are losing more than 50% in advertising. Secondly, it is vision. He believes that content really will make the difference in the post this winter.So far, Tronc has not shown that it believes that. Instead, it has worked on the edges of more pop-up ads and more videos. It has not invested in core journalism.There is a truth. They could be great again. It is going to be very hard and this iteration under Tronc to see that happen .What would the ship up at the LA Times mean for the San Diego Tribune which is integrated with the times ?I think a key question is going to be how much integration there is going to be. This is a company that can maintain profits by cutting. It has a separate editor and publisher at this point. There are some sharing of content but there might be more sharing of content if they got something for San Diego readers to watch. There is going to be efficiency introduce that will save money. As we saw in the announcement this week, even though these are tightly integrated business units in San Diego and Los Angeles, the announcement was about the times and about the glory of the times and the faded glory of the times. The sense of community newspaper in both Los Angeles and San Diego was not mention.In L.A., the Times has lost more than 100 staffers in the past five years. Should the Tribune expect layoffs?I think we can expect layoffs throughout the company. The pace of them is really unknown and there is seldom an announcement at this point. Look at the second quarter number. They lost 50% in print advertising and 8% and revenue overall. They are forecasting for investors a steady earnings for the year 2017. The only way to do that is to continue to cut. Much of the efficiency in production and printing and distribution and advertising and sales have been shaped. There's not much place other than newsrooms to cut.I have been speaking with a columnist for the Nieman journalism Lab. Thank you.You are welcome.

The Los Angeles Times parent company, Tronc Inc, fired the newspaper’s editor-publisher Monday along with three other top editors, appointing a former Yahoo executive to lead the paper’s business operations.

Tronc Inc, which also owns the Chicago Tribune, The San Diego Union-Tribune and other papers, split editor-publisher Davan Maharaj’s role among two new hires: publisher and CEO Ross Levinsohn, a former interim Yahoo CEO, and interim executive editor Jim Kirk, the former Chicago Sun-Times publisher and executive editor.

Levinsohn pledged to build a digital-first team and revive the newspaper’s national presence.


“We have global ambitions for this brand, and I believe the Los Angeles Times has the potential to further expand and deepen its societal and cultural impact regionally, nationally and around the world,” he said in a press release.

Media business analyst Ken Doctor called the shakeup “fairly unprecedented in American newspapers.”

Tronc’s second-quarter revenues were down nearly 9 percent, with revenues for the company’s digital division falling at about the same rate.

Doctor joined KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss the LA Times purge and what it could mean for the paper’s integration with The Union-Tribune.