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A Sign of the Times (Pun Sort of Intended)

By Alicia Dorr in News on Nov 8, 2006 3:00PM

L.A. Times editor Dean Baquet resigned his post yesterday. The Trib reported that the L.A. Times reported that Baquet was "forced to resign at the request" of the new publisher, David Hiller. Hiller replaced former publisher Jeff Johnson, who was replaced because of his continued resistance to the Trib's Co.'s continued calls for job cuts at the paper. Whew, we need to take a deep breath.

Newspapers.jpgBaquet was behind Johnson, refusing to see over any more cutbacks at the paper, which he said wouldn't be able to adequately fulfill its "public service mission with a greatly reduced staff." Now the paper, which Baquet has basically described as having a staff of nearly 950 that is frozen in tension, will probably faced the threatened cuts within the next year. The new editor made it clear that he would not "sugarcoat" the extent of the paper's resources - a paper that now represents a quarter of the Trib Co.'s revenue.

This means that the Chicago Tribune has seen the transfer of both its publisher and its managing editor within a couple of months, and that the Times has seen the same replacements. But what does it mean anything for newspapers? We're pretty sure that Baquet was right when he said that this was a big time of change in an industry that is struggling to keep up with a new generation and dwindling readership, and that the corporate side of the business is increasingly detached from the business that it's running.

We're hoping that this isn't just another sign that newspapers are starting to give up. We're going to read them whether or not we agree, every day, because we think there's something irreplaceable about the tangible news and the black print that rubs off on our fingers. The problem is whether or not the decisions are going to be made for us. Revenues are falling, but they are still generally profitable businesses. And it's pretty obvious that some people are still interested in running them - and probably reading them, too. Can't we put this stuff into perspective a bit?

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