The media today: Changes at the Los Angeles Times

It was a dramatic shakeup. On Monday, Tronc (which is still a stupid name) surprised the media world when it ousted Davan Maharaj, the editor and publisher of the paper, along with other members of the leadership team. In his stead, former Yahoo and Fox executive Ross Levinsohn is assuming the role of CEO and publisher of the paper; Jim Kirk of the Chicago Sun-Times is taking over as executive editor on an interim basis. “Letting go a top editor isn’t unusual,” Ken Doctor wrote for Nieman Lab. “What shocked even those who had wanted Maharaj out was the firing of three other members of Maharaj’s management team.”

The firing of Maharaj and his team was critical to what Levinsohn envisions for the paper. “We don’t do it lightly, but he’s got to build a team with a digital-first mindset to maintain the integrity of the great journalism that we do here,” said Justin Dearborn, CEO of Tronc. For many, the overhaul wasn’t a complete shock. The Times has been on shaky footing for more than a decade. Like the rest of the industry, the paper was battered by financial woes that forced significant layoffs.

The Times also suffered from six years of leadership that, at best, could be called polarizing. In a notable feature in LA Magazine last December, Ed Leibowitz asked, “What’s the matter with the L.A. Times?” The answer, according to his interviews with more than 40 current and former staffers, was Maharaj. This week, a story by Variety included similar criticisms of Maharaj, focusing on allegations that he had slowed an important investigation. And the paper’s own story on its leadership changes cited “flagging morale” in the newsroom. What will this shakeup mean for “the most important voice west of the Mississippi”? TBD. Below, more coverage of the LA Times.

 

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Meg Dalton is a CJR Delacorte Fellow. Find her on Twitter @megdalts.