Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LAT editor took a stand in budget clash

Yet another leadership crisis at the Los Angeles Times was provoked when Jim O'Shea was ousted yesterday for not being "realistic given the economic realities of the news business", according to Tribune publisher David Hiller.

But editor Jim O'Shea wrote in his exit memo to the staff, "I disagree completely with the way that this company allocates resources to its newsrooms, not just here but at Tribune newspapers all around the country."

The surprising news out of LA dramatically illustrates the differences that exist between many newspaper owners and their editors about how a newspaper's resources should be allocated. It's fairly evident that newspaper companies cannot cut their way to profit. On the other hand, they can't spend their way out of their economic problems either. So what's the fix? More cuts?

Not necessarily. O'Shea writes "Journalists and not accountants should seize responsibility for the financial health of our newspapers so journalists can make decisions about the size of our staffs and how much news remains in our papers and Web sites."

AJR's Rem Reider applauds O'Shea's truth-telling stand, writing "O'Shea made the case that there has to be a better way, one that would tap into the talents of journalists to help solve the problem rather than treating them as unsophisticated children who simply don't understand the real world."

Right on!

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