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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LA Cowboy: What Really Happened At The LA Times! He Just Wasn't That Into You!


By Brady Westwater

After reading dozens of stories both on and off-line on the sudden mutual parting/firing/resignation of now former Los Angeles Times Editor James O'Shea due to proposed staff reductions/no staff reductions/refused staff reductions plus proposed budget cuts/budgets not being increased/budgets not really being cut, but still effectively reduced - it finally appears that each of the stories/spins/rationalizations have some degree of reality/non-reality.

But the bottom line appears to be pretty much what was first said by Publisher David Hiller:

"While Mr. O'Shea insists that he was fired, Mr. Hiller said it was a mutual decision, but he said that "at some point it is more semantic. The fact is we didn't see eye-to-eye." Mr. Hiller said even before their disagreements he had expected Mr. O'Shea to be a transitional editor at the paper, serving only a year or two. "It was a question of whether we do it now or six months from now," he said, adding that he expects to soon make additional changes at the paper".

While I met Jim O'Shea a number of times, I never really got to know him as I've gotten to know other people at the Times. Nor did any of the people I talk to most at the Times ever really get to know him, which could have been part of his problem.

But, more likely - it was a generational barrier. Print is dying and the web is the future. Increasingly news aggregation is going to be as much of the future as news gathering and a somewhat new set of editorial skills will be needed to separate the wheat from the chaff, and the bloom from the bluster, to mix a metaphor.

Even more importantly, though, will be the necessary ability to customize what news each individual reader can receive, the ability to create a greater interactivity and integration of the Times into each reader's daily life - and the hunger to want to take advantage of all those new realities and challenges.

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