Johnson fired as Times publisher!

Updated at the bottom as new info comes in...

* It's breaking this morning. Editor Dean Baquet is said to be in meetings with Tribune this morning.

* The Times says in an online story that Johnson was asked to resign and that David Hiller, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, would immediately replace him. Hiller is expected to ask Baquet to stay on, but friends say he has not yet decided. Sources say the Tribune hit team arrived in Los Angeles last night.

* Email to the newsroom from Metro AME Janet Clayton:

From: Clayton, Janet
To: yyMetro
Sent: 10/5/2006 10:25 AM
Subject: change

Sorry to tell you that we are told that Jeff Johnson is out as publisher of the Los Angeles Times. Rainey will have a story tomorrow, no word yet on a successor. Dean is a meeting of senior executives about it right now. Janet

* Another email just sent around the newsroom:

Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2006 10:52 AM
Subject: Jeff Johnson

Folks, we just learned that Jeff Johnson has been forced out as publisher. A Tribune exec is acting as interim publisher. We're told that at this moment Dean has not been asked to resign--so if you have any pull with him you might want to message him to stay on board and not resign in protest"-) I don't know much else, but I'll try to keep you all posted of any new details.

* Staffers just got an email note from the head of Tribune publishing, asking them for calm. Rumors are already sweeping the newsroom that Baquet has been offered a top job at the Washington Post.

Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2006 11:27 AM
Subject: A Note From Scott Smith

Dear Los Angeles Times Colleagues:

Today David Hiller will succeed Jeff Johnson as president, publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times.

After a thorough review, Jeff and I agreed that he should resign at this time. We do agree on many priorities to best serve our customers, communities and shareholders. The Times has also made great progress on many fronts in the face of intense marketplace challenges. However, this leadership change is necessary because of important differences on how best to shape our future.

We thank Jeff for his steady leadership of the Times' over the past six years and major achievements throughout his Tribune career. We wish Jeff and his family the very best in the years ahead.

David Hiller is an outstanding media executive to build on the Times' progress. David has been president and publisher of the Chicago Tribune for two years, and has held a number of key executive positions during his 18 years with the company, including president of Tribune Interactive. He is totally committed to the top quality journalism and customer focus essential to publishing a great metropolitan newspaper. He also has terrific experience growing our internet and targeted print businesses. David will quickly get up to speed with you on the Times' central role in the very diverse Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Everyday, we all strive to create value for readers, advertisers, the broader public and shareholders. Successfully serving these varied interests, as the best news organizations have consistently done, is most challenging now due to the fundamental changes in our markets and media. As much progress as we have made in recent years, we clearly need to innovate more to grow readership and revenue, and to do so efficiently. Let's rise to these challenges together to achieve our shared goals.

Thank you.

Best regards,
Scott Smith

And email from the new LAT publisher:

From: Internal News
Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2006 11:28 AM
To: zzAll LATimes Employees
Subject: A Note From David Hiller
October 5, 2006

To all of my new colleagues:

HillerBy now you have heard that I have been named publisher, following my friend Jeff Johnson.

I hope to meet as many of you as possible in the days and weeks ahead, but wanted to introduce myself today even if email seems inadequate under the circumstances. Here's what I want you to know:

I read and love newspapers and have the highest regard for the Los Angeles Times, its great journalism, and the special role it plays in Southern California.

I have worked with many of you and know what a talented and creative team we have here.

I believe in the future of newspapers as the most trusted source of news and information in the communities we serve. To achieve that future we have to continue to change, because our readers, online users and advertising customers continue to change.

I have a lot to learn about the Times and our community, and with your help I will try to be a fast learner.

It is an honor to be able to come here and work with you

Thanks and I look forward to meeting you soon.

David

Updates:
Baquet staying
Business community concerned
Hiller not a news guy


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