Stanton: Philips' future still in flux

Hours after Howard Kurtz dinged Russ Stanton for not talking about the first big scandal under his watch as Los Angeles Times editor, Stanton told Editor & Publisher that reporter Chuck Philips "remains active and on the payroll...what he is going to be doing in the future is still in the process of being defined."

Stanton’s comments, made during a chat with E&P at the annual AP luncheon on Monday, come a week after the Times formally retracted the story in which Philips tied [Sean] Combs to the past shooting of Tupac Shakur in New York...Stanton, who has been in the top editing post for two months after replacing former editor James O’Shea, said the incident had not affected the paper’s willingness to place background material online. “We just need to make sure they are authentic,” he said. When asked if any new procedures were being put in place related to online material, he said, “we are in the process of determining that now.”

Having to face such a controversy after just a month at the helm, Stanton said the incident had made for a challenging beginning, but did not blame anyone but the paper itself. “I think we did what we were supposed to do; we made a pretty big mistake, we owed up to it on day one,” he said. “The first eight weeks of the job have had their share of challenges, but we continue to put out a hell of a paper and a Web site. There is no job like this in our business that isn’t facing a host of challenges.”

Looking ahead, Stanton said the controversy will not be a detriment to his efforts to make the paper successful: “I think it propels us forward, I don’t know how else to do it. I think we dealt with it as fairly as a newspaper can.”

Publisher David Hiller, who appointed Stanton to replace O’Shea, also offered no excuses, saying: “Things like that happen. What is important to do is to step up and acknowledge that we made a mistake. We draw a lot of attention. It is like the old saying that a million planes land safely every day, if one has a problem, it gets attention.”

Hiller also pooh-poohed the talk that Zell would like to extract the Times from his portfolio and has had discussions with David Geffen: "What Sam has said is that he’d like to keep it together with the rest of the company, I believe that and it will be a good thing. We are focused on doing a better job everyday. Because the paper is so big and prominent it naturally draws more than its share of public attention....I think we are staying part of Tribune and that is a good thing."

Can't make this stuff up: Sam Zell and Rupert Murdoch are the newest members of the Associated Press board of directors. Chicago Business

Via Romenesko

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