Austin Beutner goes from potential buyer to publisher of LA Times

Los Angeles Magazine profile of Beutner in 2011.

Austin Beutner, who was just named CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, is the investor who served as pro bono deputy mayor for awhile under Antonio Villaraigosa and for a brief time ran for mayor the last time around. More recently he was co-chair of the LA 2020 commission that made a bunch of dead-on-arrival recommendations about the city, and also was part of a group with Eli Broad that looked into buying the LA Times. Now Beutner, 54, is the paper's top executive, recommended by outgoing publisher Eddy Hartenstein. It's his first position in the news industry.

From the Times story:

“I wanted to find someone who was clearly steeped and invested in the city, and who has the same belief that I do, which is that a democracy doesn’t work without a vibrant Fourth Estate,” said Hartenstein, who was publisher for six years.

In an interview Sunday, Beutner described himself as “a news junkie” who has read The Times regularly since he moved to Southern California in 2000.

“I start my morning with a bowl of cereal and the newspaper laid out on the table in front of me,” he said.


“I come to listen, learn and work with a lot of the talented folks who are there,” he said. “I don’t have preconceived notions. I know we’ll continue to be faced with hard choices.”

Noting that he reads The Times on his smartphone or on a tablet as well as in print, Beutner said digital technologies offer “real business opportunities for us.”

He added: “It’s an organization that has to change in order to prosper. If they’re looking for a caretaker, they picked the wrong guy.”

Beutner says the right things about independence and not being a publisher who decrees news or opinion coverage. “It’s not the job of the publisher to dictate coverage. If I get a call from someone I know, I’ll give them Davan’s number,” he said, referring to Times Editor Davan Maharaj. "The role of the paper is pretty clear. We’re the civic conscience. If we don’t ask the hard questions, who will?”

Also: Beutner posted at the Huffington Post for a few months in 2012. He stopped posting on Twitter in 2011.

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