Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Zell Backs 'L.A. Times' Dismissal -- O'Shea Hits 'Voodoo Economics'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Zell Backs 'L.A. Times' Dismissal -- O'Shea Hits 'Voodoo Economics'

Article excerpt

In the aftermath of Editor Jim O'Shea's sudden exit at the Los Angeles Times, new Tribune owner Sam Zell has sent an e-mail to staff offering his backing to Publisher David Hiller on the move. O'Shea, meanwhile, spoke to his staffers today. He has said he was fired, while Zell and Hiller continue to suggest he agreed to leave.

The popular blog LAObserved published all of this first today.

First, here is Zell's statement:

"With all of the media coverage and speculation Jim O'Shea's departure is generating, I wanted to take the opportunity to reiterate what I've been saying since becoming chairman.

"I've said loud and clear that I am returning control of our businesses to the people who run them. That means David Hiller has my full support. He carries direct responsibility for the staffing and financial success of the LA Times.

"I understand that David and Jim together came to the conclusion that Jim's departure was the best decision for the direction and future of the LA Times. I'd like to thank Jim for is contributions over the years, and I wish him the best of luck."

O'Shea's message follows.

To comment or read more, go to blog.

*I made these farewell remarks in the newsroom today and I wanted to share them with everyone in case they took off the holiday and were unable to attend. I wish all of you the best and thank you for all of the help you've given me over the last 14 months.

By now I am sure you have all heard I am leaving the Los Angeles Times after 14 months as editor of the paper. I will never forget the day that I walked into this newsroom, which was furious about the firing of my predecessor, Dean Baquet. As I entered the Globe Lobby, the security guard handed me a pass. It was good for one day. I remember thinking this was going to be one of the toughest days of my life. Actually, today is probably a little tougher. I am leaving here after making many great friends and before I got a chance to do everything that I wanted. But that's life and I accept it.

I know there's a lot of talk about why I am leaving so let me set the record straight. In discussions about the current and future budgets, it became clear that Publisher David Hiller and I didn't share a common vision for the future of the Los Angeles Times. In fact, we were far apart. So David decided he wanted a new editor. As I've said on numerous occasions over the past 14 months, I intended to stay here and lead this newspaper to the greatness it deserves. But David decided he wanted to terminate my employment and get another editor. I wish the new editor the best.

Although I didn't really accomplish all of the goals that I set when I arrived, I know that this newsroom today is better off than when I walked into the door, and I am proud of all that we did together. We've accomplished a lot in just 14 months. When I came to this newsroom, I pledged to maintain the quality of the LA Times, and I did, even though I had to cut budgets and shrink the staff.

Despite those cutbacks, we successfully transformed this place into a true interactive newsroom with a web site that is far more successful than when I came. In fact, traffic on LA Times.com was up by a staggering 187 million page views over December 2006, an extraordinary achievement and one that should generate pride in our ranks. Our coverage of the fires that's truly worthy of a Pulitzer Prize is just one example of why record numbers of print and online readers depend on this newsroom. During my tenure, we also turned around a Sunday magazine that was drowning in red ink when I arrived; it's now rebounding and is in the black. With a modest investment in new resources, we created a new fashion section that generates millions in new print and online ad revenues and a successful new Calendar weekend section.

The formula for success? A small investment in new resources more than pays for itself with added revenues. …

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