Six days ago, L.A. Times editor Russ Stanton did a Q&A with Mediabistro and he was asked if things were finally getting back to normal at the embattled paper.
“I think they’re starting to [quiet down] and I think our morale is beginning to come back to where people are focused solely on doing great work and good stories and terrific journalism.”
Then this week happened.
First was the news from Sam Zell late last week that he would be cutting the staffs of all Tribune papers. Tribune’s C.E.O., Randy Michaels, specifically pointed to the L.A. Times and said that staffers at the paper seemed to have the most inefficient output of all Tribune papers.
Then the rumor mill started milling internally. One editor at the L.A. Times told Media Mob that there are a lot of “scare numbers” circulationg; one rumor is that as many as 120 newsroom staffers could be laid off. And this is only three months after at least three dozen reporters and editors took buyouts.
Mr. Stanton also lost two powerful editors this week when editorial page editor Jim Newton and foreign editor Marjorie Miller quit the paper.
And then today! Richard Perez-Pena reports that the newsroom will surrender control of the Los Angeles Times Magazine to the business side of the paper.
The way the story portrays it–Perez-Pena says that Stanton declined to comment for the story–Stanton was completely unaware that this was going down. He didn’t know he was losing his entire staff.
Back in February, L.A. Times staffers openly complained that they thought Stanton was too close to the paper’s publisher David Hiller.
“Russ is at a real disadvantage because in the newsroom he’s perceived as being a lackey to Hiller, a guy who is held in widespread contempt,” said one editor. “We’re going to have to ask: Is Russ one of us? Or one of them?”
Of course he could be neither, and still not go the way of John Carroll, or Dean Baquet or Jim O’Shea. Each editor stormed out of his job complaining that the Tribune Company had taken too much control.