LAT publisher spins

Eddy Hartenstein, the L.A. Times' rookie publisher, cheerleads in a memo to the paper's entire staff. I can just hear them muttering bullshit throughout the building.

From: Hartenstein, Eddy
Sent: Mon 10/27/2008 5:24 PM
To: zzTrbAllHandsLAT

The last couple of weeks have been tough and we've had to say goodbye to some talented colleagues and friends. It was not how I wanted to start the fourth quarter, but the deteriorating business climate is something that cannot be ignored. The good news, however, is that we are continuing to reinvent this fine company so it will be around long into the future.

Tomorrow, the Senior Team will be holding an offsite meeting to finalize our strategic plan for 2009 and beyond. I'm confident that we've determined a plan for the next year and created the long-term vision we need to succeed. We will share that plan with all employees before Thanksgiving and get a Town Hall on the calendar within the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you some of our most recent accomplishments:

Our new Chief Revenue Officer Scott McKibben is making some long overdue changes to our Advertising departments; fewer layers, better incentives, and prioritizing a client-focused approach to sales. If there are ad dollars out there, there's no reason we can't get them. Zetabid, our joint real estate venture under the leadership of Bob Bellack, had its first auction a few weeks ago. It was a great success and we believe we'll have more jam-packed auctions in the coming months. Our launch of LA magazine, led by Annie Gilbar and its new publisher Penn Jones, has been very well received by readers and advertisers alike and furthers our outstanding brand presence in Southern California. Under the guidance of Michael Whitley and the rest of his design team, we launched our redesigned newspaper last week. This is obviously a multi-step process and from this point forward we will make continuous improvements to enhance the reader experience. The Times made its first endorsement in a presidential election since 1972, backing Senator Barack Obama for President and creating media discussion internationally. Our website, increased its audience 102% over the past year, reaching 10 million unique visitors during September, according to Nielsen NetRatings (September 2008 v. 2007). This was the largest increase among the top 5 newspaper websites during that period. And, just around the corner, The Envelope Screening Series kicks off next week and features LA Times talent such as Pete Hammond, John Horn, and Tom O'Neil. This was an extremely popular event last year and this year promises to be even better.

These are just a few examples of the great work that is being done to re-think how we do business. The Los Angeles Times is still one of the most trusted brands in the country. Your leadership team is working together like never before and 2009 will be a defining year for our company. We do great things here everyday and will continue to do so. However, we must push through the conventional barriers that have limited us in so many ways. Now is the time to redefine our future-to be the leader and show our competitors how a "newspaper" can successfully change itself into a world-class, news and information source that spans all mediums.

I'll be in touch again soon


Do you know anyone — anyone — who is paying attention to the LAT who wasn't a year ago? We all know plenty who have dropped the paper as a part of their day.

Noted: According to several internal sources, Hartenstein has pushed out Caroline Thorpe, who had been the executive assistant to Times publishers back to Otis Chandler, including most recently David Hiller. From what I'm hearing, that act alone has alienated many in and out of the building.

List of L.A. Times departures

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