LA Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein announced to the staff this afternoon that the lawyer who had guided the paper through the legal minefields of news investigations, threats and libel allegations for more than 20 years is leaving. Karlene Goller predates Tribune Company ownership of the Times. She has been involved in many of the most sensitive news projects undertaken by the Times during her time there. Her departure has reportedly been in the works for several weeks. Here's what Hartenstein had to say.
From: "Hartenstein, Eddy"
Date: October 23, 2013, 12:37:43 PM PDT
Subject: News about Karlene Goller
It is with great regret that we announce the departure of one of The Times’ most valued executives: Karlene Goller.
During her 23 years here, Karlene has served seven editors and nine publishers, but her heart has always been in the newsroom, where two principles have guided her: compassion for her colleagues and a fierce determination to help reporters access information and publish. She has consistently used her keen eye for legal nuance and potential hurdles to rescue stories with suggestions that allowed us to get crucial news and information to our readers while protecting the institution. Some lawyers obstruct. Karlene publishes. As John Carroll once noted, she really is an editor with a law degree.
Many are the threats to news gathering and publishing. Fortunately for The Times, Karlene has defended our line for nearly a quarter century. She has bailed Times journalists out of jail and protected reporters and editors from lawsuits and harassment. She has gone up against local and federal agencies, judges and unions. She is almost certainly the only lawyer ever to prevail over the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the Coliseum Commission and the legal department at Bagram Air Field.
Karlene has also guided the paper’s lobbying efforts in Sacramento and, because of her, journalists at The Times and throughout California have greater ability to protect the identities of sources and greater access to public meetings and trials.
Finally, two achievements bear special note: During her tenure, The Times has never lost a libel case and its journalists saw fit to honor Karlene with a Times Editorial Award for her unflagging support of the newsroom’s mission – a rare instance of reporters paying homage to a lawyer.
Now she’s prepared to try something new. All of us will miss her. Happily, she has helped us hire her replacement and will be staying on for a transition period, so she won’t be leaving the building just yet. We will be announcing her successor soon.
In the meantime, please join us in wishing Karlene well.
Goller's current title is Vice President, Legal and Deputy General Counsel. She is married to Jim Newton, who is on the paper's masthead as editor-at-large. Before her bio disappears from the Times' website, here it is:
Goller is First Amendment counsel for the Los Angeles Times and the seven Times Community News newspapers. She is responsible for all aspects of newsroom counseling and litigation, as well as intellectual property matters. She also represents the papers in connection with legislative and policy matters at the state and federal levels. Goller joined the Times Mirror Co. in 1990 as corporate counsel for Times Mirror Cable Television Inc. She began counseling the newsroom in 1991. Before joining Times Mirror, she was an associate at Cole, Raywid & Braverman in Washington, D.C., where she practiced primarily communications law.
Goller was graduated from Middlebury College with departmental honors, attended Georgetown University Law Center as a visiting/transfer student, and received her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. She is a member of the California, District of Columbia, Virginia, and United States Supreme Court bars.
Goller serves on the Board of Directors of the California Newspaper Publishers Assn. and chairs its Government Affairs Committee. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Goller serves on the legal committee of the Newspaper Assn. of America and is a member of the legal advisory board of the University of California Irvine's Literary Journalism Program. She is a member of the editorial boards of the American Bar Assn.'s Forum on Communications and the Media Law Resource Center's MediaLawLetter. For many years, Goller has served on the Board of Directors of Public Counsel Law Center, the nation's largest pro bono legal services provider. She was Public Counsel's 2006-07 chairperson. She is a member of the Jenesse Center’s Board of Directors and currently serves as its Vice President. Goller is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.