The budget squeeze that apparently prompted the departure of L.A. Times editor Jim O'Shea wouldn't result in newsroom layoffs or seriously impair coverage, according to Managing Editor John Arthur, the #2 who is mentioned as a candidate to move up. So what's the big deal? The print version of the paper's latest exercise in covering itself dances around whether O'Shea was fired or not, as the Wall Street Journal and the Times' own reporters put it Sunday. O'Shea, too, continues to say he was forced out. But Publisher David Hiller portrays the exit as part of a larger reorganization plan under the Tribune Company's new Sam Zell ownership. "Think of it as the changes made at the start of a new presidential term," Hiller says in the paper. George Kieffer, one of the Los Angeles business leaders who called on Tribune to get its act together in L.A. more than year ago, sounds disappointed in today's LAT: "It's a continuing cause for concern, both for the quality and reporting in the paper and for what it says about long-term prospects." USC Annenberg professor Martin Kaplan gets the absurd quality of the plot twists that keep roiling the LAT:
"Haven't I seen that movie before?" Kaplan said. "It certainly makes the replacement want ad very peculiar. 'Wanted: Great journalist with superb firing skills.' "
Those wacky Times