L.A. Times publisher asked to resign
Chicago Tribune publisher stepping in
Tribune media columnist
October 5, 2006, 2:04 PM CDT
Jeff Johnson is out as publisher of the Los Angeles Times, asked to resign today by Chicago-based Tribune Co. a month after he publicly backed Times Editor Dean Baquet's defiant protests against the parent company's demand for staff reductions.
Tribune Publishing President Scott Smith said Chicago Tribune Publisher David Hiller has replaced Johnson as publisher and president at the Times. Smith, a former Chicago Tribune publisher, will temporarily supervise that paper's operations in addition to all of Tribune Co. publishing concerns.
"Jeff and I agreed that this change is best at this time because Tribune and Times executives need to be aligned on how to shape our future," Smith said in a statement. "We thank Jeff for his leadership of important advances at the Times and his significant contributions during his Tribune career."
Later, in a note to Chicago Tribune staff, Smith said, "The strong management teams in place at the Chicago Tribune and the publishing group will allow me to effectively oversee both."
Whether Baquet will remain in charge of the Times newsroom was uncertain, though Times employees suggested it would be difficult for him to stay if Hiller asked for the same staff cuts that Johnson resisted.
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Baquet was meeting with senior executives at the paper, as word of Johnson's exit leaked out. One Times newsroom source said he heard Baquet would stay.
Tribune last month announced that it would consider restructuring the company, potentially selling assets or breaking the media conglomerate into pieces. Tribune bought the Los Angeles-based Times Mirror Co. in 2000.