'Save Baquet' petition (** Updates)

Today's Editor and Publisher has the wording of the letter that hundreds of staffers at the L.A. Times have signed in support of editor Dean Baquet and publisher Jeff Johnson:

We the undersigned staff members of the Los Angeles Times want to state our support and appreciation for the stand our publisher, Jeff Johnson, and editor, Dean Baquet, have taken on behalf of quality journalism and the newspaper we love.

We hope their message resonates beyond this newsroom and inspires many more to recognize the vital role that a robust newspaper plays in our individual communities and our society as a whole. While more doesn’t always equal better, we are concerned that further budget cuts will only serve to harm the integrity of an institution that many of us have labored to build over a number of years, as well as the quality of the product we help to deliver daily. We seek to up hold a tradition of excellence and here reiterate our commitment to preserve this newspaper’s unique place in the greater Los Angeles area, California, and beyond.

It will be sent to Tribune headquarters in advance of Thursday's board meeting, amid speculation that the jobs of either or both may be in jeopardy. (D'oh! Mark Lacter had the petition wording yesterday at LA Biz Observed. Also, I'm going to be on "Patt Morrison" at 2 pm on KPCC to talk about the Times-Tribune situation.)

Posted last night: Tough numbers on Times

** Stuff keeps breaking:

  • The petition was forwarded to Chicago with more than 400 signatures, not counting those on stray copies around the building that didn't make it on to the master list.
  • Sarah Gardner of Marketplace covered the Times-Tribune mess today, quoting George Kieffer of the Los Angeles Civic Alliance and newspaper industry analysts.
  • Times publisher Jeff Johnson met with his Chicago master — Scott Smith, head of Tribune publishing — yesterday and one can only imagine how roughly that went. Johnson emerged with his job to email the rebelling staff his second memo of the past few days, saying "we affirmed our fundamental objectives to effectively serve readers, advertisers, our communities and shareholders." I suspect Smith reaffirmed more forcefully than Johnson. Full text follows after the jump.
  • Times sells its shuttered Chatsworth plant to MGA Entertainment.

Previous Johnson memo is here; latest follows:

(Managers and supervisors: Please share this information with your employees who do not have e-mail. Thank you.)

September 20, 2006

Dear Colleague -

Since last Thursday, there has been considerable media attention given to the Los Angeles Times, Tribune Company, and our future. While it's awkward to see one's internal deliberations covered so broadly, the issues are important and I believe warrant further comment to bolster your confidence in our resolve to work through these issues together.

Yesterday, Scott Smith and I met in Chicago to discuss recent developments, including the letter from community leaders and Dennis FitzSimons' response, the media coverage and, most importantly, our plans to move forward constructively. We affirmed our fundamental objectives to effectively serve readers, advertisers, our communities and shareholders. We also talked about how the Los Angeles Times has to play a leadership role, both in Southern California and in Tribune initiatives.

All media organizations are facing unprecedented changes that challenge us immensely. The changing media landscape also provides important opportunities for new products, new readers and new revenue. Scott and I both believe we have a talented team here in Los Angeles to tackle these challenges. Tribune's company-wide resources and scale are also key advantages.

Earlier this year, we laid out our vision for growth. It is focused on Reconnecting with Southern California, Owning Entertainment and Winning in Local Online. We have a number of great initiatives underway, from the redesign of the core paper's news sections to the relaunch of The in print and online. We will continue to accelerate our pace of innovation across all areas to keep up with the region and world we cover.

Yesterday, I also reiterated our commitment to build a credible financial plan in the coming weeks that is grounded in actions and initiatives that efficiently build readership and revenue.

Ultimately, both the Los Angeles Times and Tribune need to grow to be a healthy organization -- through great newspapers and launching more offerings than we have today. That is the challenge before us, and we need everyone engaged, working together to meet that challenge. Thank you all for your dedication to achieving our shared goals as we start the next 125 years.


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