Cruelest blow (* * updated)

Newsroom sources at the Los Angeles Times are angry that today's axe fell on ex-publisher Jeff Johnson at a personally difficult time. According to the sources, a family member this week received distressing medical news. Tribune bosses who headed to Los Angeles to remove Johnson were asked to delay the inevitable, in deference to the developing health situation. They reportedly did allow one day's reprieve, but the company's unwillingness to hold off further appears to have heightened the simmering anti-Tribune feeling in the Times building. As it was, Editor & Publisher, which did not mention the medical issue, picked up today on the hard feelings on Spring Street. Longtime investigative reporter and editor William Rempel told E&P, "resentment runs deep and wide...There is no one in the building who has any confidence in Tribune management to do what is right for our newspaper or for journalism. It is punishment for Jeff for speaking truth to management and doing it publicly."

* Added: The Wall Street Journal has a piece online this afternoon reconstructing, with Johnson's cooperation, how his departure came about. It seems that his resignation was under discussion for a couple of days.

** Friday's Washington Post: Howard Kurtz reports that Johnson took off Wednesday to be with his family after his wife was diagnosed with cancer, forcing the Tribune move to wait a day.

I've been on "AIrtalk" with Larry Mantle, "Marketplace" and the "KPFK Evening News" today and observed breaking coverage all over the Internet, so this is clearly being received as a major media story. If you want to catch up, here is a selective list of links to the LA Observed coverage up to now.

How events unfolded today:
Johnson out as Times publisher
Business community concerned
Baquet decides to stay
New publisher not a news guy
Tribune company, meet Secretary Rumsfeld
What led to Johnson's ouster

Background in recent posts:
L.A. leaders warn Tribune on cuts
What Tribune wants to cut
Johnson urges Times staff to stay focused
FitzSimons answers L.A. critics
Tim Rutten says LAT future at stake
New York Times calls Johnson a newsroom hero
Editors prepared to quit together
Times staffers sign petition
Tribune board speaks
The Chandler clause
Broad, Geffen and Burkle still want Times
Chandlers drop bomb on Tribune
Bulletin board graffito at Times

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