In a Q&A with Forbes' Louis Hau, L.A. Times Publisher David Hiller answers one of the lingering questions about the future paper:
The Los Angeles Times is one of the few U.S. papers left with a significant number of foreign correspondents. How committed is the Times to maintaining that network of foreign reporters?
We think our foreign coverage is very important, and it's of high interest in our community. L.A. is tremendously international and cosmopolitan. We're going to keep a strong foreign report. I think what we'll do over time is gauge what size should it be, where those correspondents are allocated, and also look at how we do collaborate with, for example, our sister paper the Chicago Tribune, which has foreign correspondents, and make sure we get the maximum reach in terms of coordinating where we are.
Would you be looking to eliminate overlap between the two staffs?
I think that would definitely be an area we'd look at. What you want to do is get the most quality coverage, paying what you can afford to put in the field.
Hiller dodges two questions on whether Sam Zell is talking to David Geffen or anyone else about selling. I take his non-denials as another nugget suggesting that the prospect is live. That's still what I hear third-hand from sources who feel quite confident about their sources. Talks "definitely happening," says a Times source not prone to overstating. Perhaps related?: A separate very good source says that Geffen was spotted having dinner recently at Vincenti with Eli Broad...especially interesting given the two newspaper-craving moguls' oft-reported lack of warmth for each other. * Plot thickens? Arianna Huffington has been vacationing in Tahiti on Geffen's yacht — in fact was there during the dustup over Obama remarks reported by one of her bloggers. Huffington has strong views on what the Times could be.
Anyway, Hiller's take on a potential sale and what has to change at the Times after the jump:
What areas are in most need of change?
Three areas. One is continued aggressive growth in building out our Internet business, to build products that will build audience and reach in L.A.
We just launched our new online entertainment product [The Guide], that's built on this amazing new platform that organizes your world down to the neighborhood level among the hundreds of neighborhoods that people live in and think about in L.A. And that's a platform that we can use for hyper-local news, user-generated content, all of that stuff.
Secondly, finishing the integration of the print and online operations. Right now, we're still at a point where we've got somewhat separated teams. You're always going to have specialists, people who do different things, [but] particularly in this environment, we need to make sure there's no redundancy, that all the players can write for both print and online and editors can edit for both, etc., etc.
Third, I would say, is continuing the redesign or re-imagining of the main print newspaper. ... All this other media is changing. One piece of it, the print newspaper, just can't stand still. In the 24-hour continuous news cycle, you're going to break news online. That's our mantra--break it online and do something else in print. So print's got to change too.
Have the two of you discussed the possibility of seeking a buyer for the Times?
Sam has said he would like to keep the Times.
So the recent reports that Zell is negotiating a possible sale of the paper to David Geffen are erroneous?
You'd have to ask him.