In its story tonight about editor Russ Stanton stepping down, the Los Angeles Times introduces in the fourth paragraph the idea that the "mutual decision" comes amid dissension over looming newsroom cuts.
"It is important to me to be leaving on my own terms, and that is what I'm doing," Stanton said when asked whether he faced pressure to leave over his resistance to possible staff cuts. "I am greatly looking forward to taking a breather and figuring out what the next challenge is."
Thomson said there was no connection between Stanton's departure and potential newsroom layoffs. She declined to comment on whether there would be a fresh round of staff reductions next year.
Stanton's announcement email to the staff doesn't bring up that issue at all, or any other to explain his exit, other than to say he and Kathy Thomson agreed that "now would be a good time for a fresh set of eyes to lead our newsroom." The suggestion that Stanton is leaving rather than make newsroom cuts set some email wires to buzzing today, given his record on that. He got the top job in 2008 only after eagerly embracing cuts the bosses in Chicago wanted that three previous editors-in-chief and a couple of publishers refused to make — his immediate predecessor, Jim O'Shea, wrote in his recent book, "The Deal From Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers,” that Stanton more than played ball with Tribune on cuts.
During his tenure, the Times staff fell by a few hundred to 500 and change. Given the number of people who lost their jobs, it put some people off that in his email today, Stanton includes in his accomplishments that "more than 80 journalists have joined your ranks, including more than two dozen from the Minority Editorial Training Program...and more than 40 people, half of them women, have joined the ranks of management."
Print circulation has fallen, but the paper has shifted its DNA to embrace the web and added millions of pageviews, the Times won three Pulitzers during Stanton's term, and its journalism today brings it a lot more headlines than the wacky things that were going on that inspired this 2007 year in review compilation. It's still amazing to look back at how...eccentric...the L.A. Times was then. And you know, 2008 was pretty entertaining too.
By the way, here's Stanton's email to the staff when he took over the job.
Other coverage today:
The Wrap: "The Los Angeles Times was rocked by more turmoil Tuesday when editor Russ Stanton resigned in advance of another round of cutbacks....New cuts are on the horizon, with 12 to 20 staffers to be laid off sometime after the first of the year, according to one individual with knowledge of the situation."
New York Times: ". “Given the damage he did to the paper, it’s hard to regret his removal,” said Tim Rutten, who worked at the paper for nearly 40 years before he was laid off this summer. But Mr. Stanton also grew weary of cutting staff, associates said. With more budget tightening expected early next year, Mr. Stanton confided in friends that “he just didn’t have anymore layoffs in him,” said a former senior editor."