This just in… according to the L.A. Times’ website, Times Publisher David D. Hiller fired Editor James O’Shea following a confrontation in which Hiller directed O’Shea to carry out $4 million in cuts, according to a person familiar with the situation. The move didn’t become public until it was reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The turmoil has erupted one month after the closing of the $8.2-billion buyout of Tribune Co., The Times’ parent company, by an employee stock plan and Chicago real-estate baron Sam Zell. Zell was out of the country today and unavailable for comment, a spokeswoman said.
A little bit of Times’ history courtesy of our friends over at LAObserved.com.
Publisher John Puerner resigned in 2005, reportedly over plans to scale back the Times to increase profits. Editor John Carroll resigned later that year, warning that cuts desired by Tribune would seriously reduce the LAT’s appeal to readers, who already were fleeing in high numbers. New publisher Jeff Johnson was asked to resign in 2006, after refusing to enforce cuts he said would hurt the paper’s journalism. Editor Dean Baquet also got nudged out in 2006, after refusing to make cuts he said would make the Times second-rate. Even though the Tribune is under new management, now O’Shea has been ousted too over the same issues.
The next editor of The Times, the nation’s fourth largest daily newspaper, will be the fourth in less than three years.
My Two Cents on the Los Angeles Times
There is a reason why the Black media continues to remain relevant, especially during times like these.
In recent year’s the Times’ coverage of African-Americans has continued to be a constant disappointment.
Like with our elected officials who are charged with representing a diverse city population, the Times’ is not a private entity above criticism and a good calling out.
I am fully aware of what our responsibility is in terms of reaching out to the Times’. But that responsibility doesn’t mean that we should have to beg the Times’ to give us po’ Black folks some coverage. And no, the Times’ sending a flock of reporters to every drive-by in L.A. south of the 10, west of the 710, and east of the 405 freeways or the deliberate and calculated front page raping of a hospital in Watts day after day until it’s no longer open for business does not count.
It’s no secret that the Times’ like most newspapers nationwide has seen a dramatic decrease in its readership. I would offer that one reason more African-Americans don’t turn to the Times daily is because the Times doesn’t reflect or represent us unless we’re a sports athlete, entertainer, or involved in a crime. Perhaps if the Times’ offered a more accurate representation of the diverse city it represents rather than the racial make-up of its newsroom staff, more people would have good reason to pick it up each day.
There comes a point when something has got to give. The Los Angeles Times has consistently ignored the voices, events, and lives of its African-American constituents for far too long and in 2008 it’s time for a change.
However, with the expected newsroom cuts, I seriously doubt that’s going to happen as there are going be an even lesser number of reporters available to cover stories. Add to that, in the last five or so years, the number of Black writers at the Times’ has managed to dwindle down to a record low. I hope my brothers and sisters at the Times’ can weather the next round of layoffs. If it weren’t for the them, the few decent stories we have managed to get into the Times’ would never have happened.