Nelson is a professor at the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC and a former national correspondent at the Los Angeles Times. In an op-ed in next week's Los Angeles Business Journal, he summarizes the Tribune's track record in L.A. so far pretty succinctly. It's online only for subscribers, but here's an excerpt:
The business executives of Tribune Co. in Chicago seem far over their heads in dealing with the revolt of news executives, journalists and readers of the Los Angeles Times.
The Tribune tyros just donít seem to get it. People in southern California are used to having a great newspaper. They donít want their Times to descend to the journalistic ambition of the Chicago Tribune or the Orlando Sentinel. They donít regard their newspaper, part of the only industry to be protected by the U.S. Constitutionís First Amendment, to be treated as a mere cost-cutting center and revenue-producing arm to swell Tribuneís profits.
What is amazing about the Tribuneís business leaders is that they canít even work with and convince their own people at the Times. In recent months, the Times has lost two publishers, John Puerner and Jeffrey M. Johnson, and two editors, John S. Carroll and Dean Baquet, in fights with the Tribune brass over cost-cutting. All four were appointed by the Tribune leaders.
Puerner and Johnson were real Tribune business guys with long records of service to Tribune. Baquet had spent years as a Tribune reporter in Chicago. The Tribune hasnít even been able to persuade its own hand-picked executive at the Times that massive cost-cutting is useful. As publisher Jeffrey Johnson concisely said after being shown the door, ďNewspapers canít cut their way into the future.Ē
I had expected better of Tribune.
Also in the LABJ: Joel Russell writes on the news side that if Dean Singleton wants to buy the Times to complete his SoCal strategy, he will run into regulatory concerns with the U.S. Justice Department. Plus: The Laugh Factory profits from all the Michael Richards controversy, Donald Sterling will go ahead with his homeless center downtown, and an SBA loan was used to revive the old Redwood Saloon downtown. LABJ