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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LA Times editor leaves

LA Times editor James O'Shea has left the paper citing differences with the publisher over how to take the company forward. He "told senior editors that he opposed the constant drumbeat of cuts in response to falling advertising revenue." His departure comes a month after the paper was bought by real estate magnate Sam Zell.

Here's the LA Times story about it, in which O'Shea is said to be leaving. And here's
CNN's version of the story, in which O'Shea was fired. Here's what O'Shea told staff in a farewell speech:

"In discussions about the current and future budgets, it became clear that Publisher David Hiller and I didn’t share a common vision for the future of the Los Angeles Times. In fact, we were far apart. So David decided he wanted a new editor. As I’ve said on numerous occasions over the past 14 months, I intended to stay here and lead this newspaper to the greatness it deserves. But David decided he wanted to terminate my employment and get another editor. I wish the new editor the best."

He ended his speech with this: "When this industry stops relying so much on cuts and starts investing in journalism, it will prosper because it will be serving the best interests of our readers. That’s when we will prosper."

You can read his speech here and the publisher's memo to staff here.

Six months ago O'Shea brought in a few changes at the LA Times aimed at making the paper more transparent and engaged with its readers, and taking steps towards integrating web and print. It was under him that the Times launched its Readers' Representative blog and Editors' blogs, and started routinely including reporters' email addresses with their stories and encouraging more direct contact between readers and reporters. He also set about bringing web and print operations closer together in areas like motoring and business.

The changes were announced in an internal memo, which did the rounds online last July, along with directives on writing shorter stories (except where a good, long read was truly warranted) and a focus on 'projects' - bigger, collaborative, good-old-fashioned-journalism-type stories that he saw as essential to the paper's continuing success.