LAT

Hartenstein's first meeting

New Los Angeles Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein met some of the staff this afternoon and didn't make any headlines. That's a switch from previous debuts by Times and Tribune executives. He says he's a 213 guy, was asked to take over by Sam Zell about a month ago, and would leave if Zell meddles. Here's an informal, unofficial report from a veteran newsroom employee that found its way into the LA Observed in-box.

Just got out of a meeting with Eddy.... He says all the right things--but so did the previous publishers. He seems genuine, bright and has poise. He's a local and is familiar with the paper; a dedicated reader (and yes, it's apparent he reads the sports section, unlike some I could mention). When people asked questions, he recognized their bylines--very heartening to the staff.

The question of more layoffs was posed in half a dozen different ways and he said he hadn't been given a target number for the staff, that Sam Zell told him to run the place, etc., etc. He did say (as did Mark Willes and Sam Zell) that we can't cut our way to prosperity. In the final question, some hard revenue numbers were brought up, attributed to David Hiller (revenue of $80 million for print and $30 million for the web) and he said he hadn't seen numbers anything like that. He said his main goal is to keep the paper in the black through the end of the year.

He emphasized that he hadn't been recruited for the job; that he was happily retired and was introduced to Zell through a mutual acquaintance. He and Zell had lunch and that was that. About a month ago Zell called and asked: "How'd you like to run the L.A. Times?" He also emphasized that he doesn't need this job and left the strong impression that he expects Sam Zell to be a man of his word about freedom to run The Times and if Sam doesn't keep his word, Hartenstein will be gone. Hartenstein and Zell are supposed to talk in roughly six months about how things are going....

People asked about his lack of experience with newspapers. He said he has lots of experience with DirecTV in getting and retaining subscribers.

Funniest moment.... He was discussing Zell and someone's cellphone went off, playing the theme from "The Exorcist."

Much laughter.

He says he's a "213" guy, not a "312" guy. Also much laughter.

Biz is doing the real story, these are just a few random notes.

New publisher speaks
Meet the new L.A. Times publisher


More by Kevin Roderick:
John Severson, 83, founder of Surfer magazine
LA Observed Notes: 60 Minutes, selling the Coliseum and more
Gil Cedillo, Nick Melvoin win LA runoffs*
LA Observed Notes: Baca goes down, LAX shuffle, media moves
LA Observed Notes: Big TV news, media moves, obits and more
Recent LAT stories on LA Observed:
LA Times editor gets all serious: 'How could truth become so devalued?'
'Why Trump Lies' is next part of LA Times series
LA Times reporters show the way
LA Times staff warned not to join women's marches
Read the LA Times response to Los Angeles Magazine's piece
LA Times hires new sheriff's beat reporter
LA Times says pro-internment letters should not have run
LA Magazine says editor Davan Maharaj is what's wrong with the LA Times*


 

LA Observed on Twitter