Hiller: Smaller, different LAT

Los Angeles Times Publisher David Hiller sent the staff a little pre-layoff salvo to prepare them for the cuts and repositioning that will be announced soon. Light on details, but with a message that online and multimedia will matter more to the bosses than the print paper. The staff will be revamped to reflect different skills. Bottom line: the near future will be "tougher than ever before."


As you know, the company's financial picture remains exceedingly difficult, and all the more reason for us to move quickly, decisively on plans that will help us build a sustainable LA Times Media Group for the long run. Over the next 2 months we will be rolling out our 2010 business plan, one that is grounded in financial reality, and also true to our vision of being the leading news and information source in Southern California. Here are key elements of the plan:

* Our digital business will be a lot bigger than today, both in audience and revenue - the online destination in SoCal.

* Our flagship newspaper will continue to be a smart, engaging experience for people in L.A. who love print. It will also be different than it is today, responding to changing reader needs and wants.

* We'll create our unique engaging content out of a unified multi-media newsroom.

* We'll develop and launch more new products and services for targeted audience segments, like we have with Hoy, the Envelope, and Metromix.

* We will be the best in the business in creating advertising solutions for our customers, here again across all media including TV.

* We will make money and find efficiencies by being the leader in printing and distributing other newspapers and advertising products all across the Southland.

* We will continue to be the destination of choice for people who are passionate about inventing the future of journalism and community-based media.

A fundamental requirement for creating a sustainable business is that we keep our expenses lower than our revenues. So as we find ways to grow new revenue, we are also taking actions to reduce expenses in all parts of the company, including job reductions. As a result the company in total will be smaller in staffing, with a different mix of talents and skills dictated by the changing needs of our customers. We'll be communicating a lot in the next days and weeks about our product and people plans. The road ahead is going to be tougher than ever before. But there is a sustainable business and a good future in being the Los Angeles Times Media Group, and we are going to own our destiny, shape it with our customers, and make it successful. We want people to say in the years to come, "you know what-these people figured it out."


I wasn't aware that anyone regarded the Times as the destination of choice for people passionate about changing the future of journalism, or that anyone expects the Times will be the media venture that figures it out. Certainly nothing they've done online yet would suggest they'll come up with the magic newsroom formula for the future. But hey, it's his memo. Just to be clear, I hope the Times does figure it out. It would be good for L.A., good for L.A. journalism, and probably fun to observe.

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