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LA Times Publisher Resigns; Editor Remains on Job

Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet said he will stay at the newspaper for the time being, even after the publisher was ousted by the paper's parent company weeks after he and Baquet publicly refused to make staff cuts ordered by the media conglomerate.

Baquet told staffers at the Times on Oct.5 that he has "tremendous loyalty" to ex-publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson, "But as I have said before, the paper has to come first," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Johnson, who took over as publisher in June 2005, was asked to resign by Scott Smith, president of the Chicago-based Tribune Publishing division in charge of newspapers.

"Ultimately Jeff and I concluded we couldn't resolve our differences and essentially (were at) an impasse," Smith said in an interview. "It was vital for the organization to move forward with senior management clearly aligned on priorities."

David D. Hiller, who has been publisher of the Chicago Tribune, was named Johnson's successor.

The regime change at the Times follows a highly publicized show of defiance last month by Johnson and Baquet against the latest proposed Tribune cuts, which drew the ire of not only Times staffers but those at some of Tribune's 10 other daily newspapers.

Smith said Thursday that he hoped the changes would help put an end to speculation that the company intended to sell the Times. He said owning the nation's fourth-largest newspaper and its resources brings "real value" to Tribune and reiterated that it is not for sale "at this time."

Tribune announced Sept. 21 that it would study the possible sale or breakup of the corporation, which owns the Chicago Tribune, baseball's Chicago Cubs, cable superstation WGN and other TV stations and newspapers. The Tribune board is expected to decide on a course by year's end.

Chief Executive Dennis FitzSimons has said plans would not include selling the Times, but he also has pledged to do what's best for shareholders and said "everything is on the table."

Like many old media companies, Tribune has been struggling with declining advertising and circulation as readers age and younger consumers turn to the Web for news.

Hiller met with employees on Thursday, then business leaders Thursday night. He and Baquet agreed that Baquet would stay in his job, but would revisit the issue after they had more time to work together.

"If it turns out that ... we want to get to the same place, then we'll do it together," Hiller said. "We'll have to see at the end of those conversations."

Baquet said he will try to make a compelling case to convince Tribune executives that there needs to be a large, robust newsroom at the Times.(AP)






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