Times editor O'Shea fired *

* Freshened and slightly edited post

O'Shea and Hiller in tune onceIt's amazing to me that the journalists left at the L.A. Times can put out a paper and a website every day, with all the turmoil that swirls around down there. Here's the way puts it in a story posted within the hour: "For the second time in 15 months, the editor of the Los Angeles Times has been fired for refusing to impose budget cuts ordered by his publisher." O'Shea got the job in late 2006 as a caretaker after Dean Baquet declined to impose budget reductions he thought ill-advised. For the past few weeks, there has been a lot of internal Times gossip about O'Shea's seeming distance from the newsroom operation. Basically, some people thought he wasn't there even when he was there. Now this, apparently over $4 million that Publisher David Hiller wanted taken out of the budget during an election and Olympics year. When O'Shea (left in picture) arrived, he and Hiller (center) claimed they were in tune on most issues.

From the LAT story:

Times Publisher David D. Hiller fired Editor James O'Shea following a confrontation in which Hiller directed O'Shea to carry out $4 million in cuts, according to a person familiar with the situation. The move didn't become public until it was reported today by the Wall Street Journal.

The turmoil has erupted one month after the closing of the $8.2-billion buyout of Tribune Co., The Times' parent company, by an employee stock plan and Chicago real-estate baron Sam Zell. Zell was out of the country today and unavailable for comment, a spokeswoman said.

Here's the lede of the Wall Street Journal story that broke the news at 12:34 pm our time:

Los Angeles Times editor James O'Shea was fired just 14 months after he assumed the post, over a budgetary disagreement with publisher David Hiller, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Mr. O'Shea's exit comes little more than a month after the Times' parent company Tribune Co. was taken private in a $8.2 billion buyout. Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell won effective control in the buyout and became chairman and CEO of Tribune. The Chicago-based company owns several newspapers, including the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune and Newsday, as well as a chain of TV stations. A Tribune spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. O'Shea, who had been editor of the LA Times since November 2006, is the third successive editor of the paper to leave over budgetary issues. His predecessor, Dean Baquet, was ousted rather than make cuts requested by Tribune's then management. In July 2005, John Carroll had quit under similar circumstances.

Story in the New York Times

Sources within The Times said that the dispute arose from Mr. Hiller’s desire to cut the newsroom’s expense budget during the heated presidential campaign, a time when such expenses usually spike. Editors and reporters say that Mr. Hiller told them in a meeting in November that he wanted to reduce the head count somewhat by the end of this year. All of these people were granted anonymity so they would talk about internal matters they were not authorized to discuss.

But the shakeup may come as a surprise to newsroom employees at The Times, several of whom said late last week that they had not heard of a clash between the editor and the publisher and did not have any indication that Mr. O’Shea’s position was threatened. Calls to Mr. O’Shea’s office late last week went straight to voice mail.

To some extent, the reductions being sought are the same ones that were demanded in 2006 by the old management of Tribune, some of which were never made, sources at The Times said.

More coverage of today's news:
Editor & Publisher
LA Biz Observed

Here's my year-end post wrapping up the stunning run of internal foibles and disruptions that plagued O'Shea's and Hiller's Times in 2007. In addition, check out these earlier posts:

Will O'Shea be ready to cut?
O'Shea: Don't rush to judgment
O'Shea settles in to the South Bay life
Baquet out at Times
Most clicked-on posts of 2006

Freshened post

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