TO: Los Angeles Times Employees
FROM: David Hiller
SUBJECT: Organization Announcement
We have published a story on the website that Dean Baquet is leaving and will be replaced by Jim O'Shea, currently managing editor of the Chicago Tribune. We did not plan to communicate in this way, but the story was breaking.
When I came here four weeks ago, Dean Baquet and I agreed that we would work to get to know each other, for me to get to know the newspaper, and we would decide if we were on the same page in terms of the strategic and operating direction of the paper. After considerable discussion, we concluded that we have significant differences on future direction, and so Dean will be leaving.
I do not want to dwell on my differences with Dean. In my note earlier this week I set out, in a positive but realistic way, how I see our challenges and opportunities, and what we need to do to continue our role as the leading and most trusted source for news and information in Los Angeles and Southern California. The headlines were innovation and change in the newspaper to turn around current readership and circulation trends; allocating more resources to accelerate our growth on the web; more media products to build our reach with certain segments of the market; sharpening our strategies to serve the Hispanic community; and managing our resources and expenses in light of current business realities.
Part of that last point relates to levels of staffing and other resources, and how we allocate and re-allocate resources as our business changes. As I write this, I still do not have a definite view of staffing levels across the company, including in the newsroom. We are working through these issues in connection with the 2007 operating plan. I think it is very important, as I said in my note earlier, that all of these resource and staffing issues be decided within a framework of where we are leading the business for the long term.
It is also important that all of us be aligned on how we will approach these needed changes, and that we lead these changes positively and with confidence. I appreciate that not everybody will agree and choose to join in this direction, and that's ok. Smart and reasonable people can differ significantly. Everybody gets to choose whether this is a direction they can support, and do so with excellence and passion. But decide we all must, because the last thing we can stand is confusion on our mission and objectives. It's going to be hard enough as it is.
A few more words about Jim O'Shea. He is a journalist's journalist, coming up mostly on the foreign and national news side. He is a tough minded but fair, independent thinker, of rock hard news values and integrity, professional and personal. He also understands the imperatives of sustaining readership, and of innovating and changing things to build readership. He has worked a lot over the years with Dean, Doug Frantz, and many others of you who can speak to your experiences with Jim. In Chicago, Jim has managed a large news operation, and has been an architect with Dean of our new model of foreign and national coverage, including the Washington bureau. This will be helpful as we find additional ways to collaborate with other Tribune newspapers. Jim has also been leading the efforts in Chicago to re-invent how the newsroom operates in the new 24/7 multi-channel environment, and he will not miss a beat in jumping into the work actively going on here. I could go on and on, but instead Jim's bio is attached. I will say, finally, that Jim is a personable, considerate and good-humored colleague (in that sometimes gruff but charming Irish sort of way), traits you are accustomed too and that will serve us all well on the road ahead.
Please get to know Jim and help us all succeed together.