Wednesday, November 08, 2006

LA inevitable

Resistance is futile. The LA Times editor has lost his battle over staff cuts and quit.

Back in September, Jeffrey Johnson, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, and Dean Baquet, the editor, refused to lay off staff at the paper on the orders of bosses at parent group the Tribune Company, sparking a rebellion between title against its parent company.

Johnson was said to have reached a "temporary understanding" with his employers and that neither he nor Baquet were about to be sacked.

Today, Reuters is reporting that Baquet has resigned and that in a sombre meeting with hundreds of staff in the newsroom, publisher David Hiller said: "Dean and I spoke, and we decided we really have a different vision of where this newspaper is going." He added that there would be staff cuts next year but declined to say how many or whether they would be achieved by attrition or layoffs.

The publishers always somehow manage to survive and escape the swing.

Apparently Hiller's comments were greeted mostly with silence from reporters and editors, some of whom were in tears, according to people who attended the meeting.

Baquet is being replaced by Jim O'Shea, currently managing editor of The Chicago Tribune, will take up the position on Monday.

This all follows the rumour earlier this week that entertainment mogul David Geffen's sale of a Jackson Pollock painting for $140m (£73.4m) has intensified speculation that he plans to buy the LA Times.

Reports say that Geffen, founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of the Dreamworks film studio, is prepared to pay up to $2bn in cash for the newspaper. Other businessmen to register an interest in buying the LA Times are Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, who made their fortunes in real estate and supermarkets respectively.

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