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Top editors of the Los Angeles Times were suddenly sacked by tronc, the Chicago-based company that owns the Times, this afternoon (Aug. 21). A memo announcing the personnel changes from tronc CEO Justin Dearborn was sent to employees of both the L.A. Times and Union-Tribune.

Ross Levinsohn, former interim chief executive of Yahoo, was named publisher and chief executive of the Times. In a statement, Levinsohn said the dismissals will accelerate the "digital transformation" of tronc. Newspaper experts have expected for some time that daily newspapers, including those owned by tronc, might drop some print editions and replace them with digital editions on certain days — say, digital for three days a week and print for the other four, with an eye to cutting the print editions. This has already been done at some dailies.

Levinsohn replaces Davan Maharaj, who was publisher and editor of the Times. Jim Kirk, former editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, will take over the top editor position formerly held by Maharaj. Kirk only joined tronc last week. Naming Kirk is an unusual move, because the Sun-Times has been a sick newspaper for more than 30 years. It has always been in second place behind the tronc-owned Chicago Tribune in that market.

Others who have been booted out the door at the Times are managing editor Marc Davoisin, deputy managing editor for digital Megan Garvey, and assistant managing editor of investigations Matt Doig.

The Times manages the San Diego Union-Tribune. My sources there just heard the news and don't know what to think. However, the U-T recently laid off some editorial employees and has been making other economic moves.

Some on the inside expect the U-T to switch to all-digital on certain days of the week.

"If you are in U-T management you are wetting your pants," says a former top executive of Southern California daily newspapers. "You probably have been worried ever since tronc took over. Some have already paid the price" in massive layoffs.

This former executive says that in the late 1970s, the Times was "the most powerful advertising medium on earth."

As dailies have lost advertising and revenue, none deserve such an accolade now.

The former Tribune Co., now named tronc, bought the Times in the year 2000 in an $8 billion cash and stock deal. But almost from the beginning, the Chicago top management and the Times bosses have feuded, sometimes openly. In 2015, tronc (then named Tribune Publishing) bought the U-T, nine weeklies, and digital properties in Southern California for $85 million.

The U-T has been run by the Times, much to the chagrin of some U-T employees. In battles between Chicago and L.A., the U-T has generally sided with the Times.

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Comments

peter45 Aug. 21, 2017 @ 6:13 p.m.

I read the paper everyday, on line, and seldom does a day go by that I don't swear at the paper. The Copleys have rolled over with the ED page. Typical Calif. trash.........good riddance to the clowns that ran the paper from LA.

Sure that was not the reason for the changes but adios...........

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Don Bauder Aug. 21, 2017 @ 6:51 p.m.

peter45: I have heard many people refer to the Copley years as "the good old days." I was there 30 years during the Copley regime (1973-2003) and few staffers believed we were in "the good old days." Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Aug. 22, 2017 @ 3:11 p.m.

Don, Looking back, don't you think many of today's U-T employees would see that era as far better than now? No, it wasn't great, but the place employed many people and paid them fairly well by SD standards with (usually) job security. In the advertising and marketing area, once they were hired, I don't recall many leaving prior to retirement.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 9:51 a.m.

Visduh: Those of us who were at the U-T in the Copley era (I was there 30 years during it, 1973-2003), would never have believed that we would be looking back at it as "the good old days."

Of course, you can't compare the Copley era with current newspaper days. Metro dailies throughout the U.S. have collapsed since the Copleys sold out. There was a steady income stream in the Copley days; that is no longer true. Best, Don Bauder

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MiriamRaftery Aug. 22, 2017 @ 10:19 p.m.

Don - The Copleys ripped off their freelancers and resold thousands of works that they didn't own copyrights on.I found out and objected. They told me to sign a retroactive rights contract for everything for no money, or I couldn't write for them again. So I became a lead plaintiff who filed a landmark class action lawsuit against them, and other publishers who did this too.Their thievery cost them a pretty penny. it's been in the courts for years and recently settled in the writers' favor. David Copley complained he couldn't afford to pay a pittance to writers, yet the same month we filed suit, his mansion was featured in a magazine --completed with gilded cherubs on the ceiling and an original Picasso on the wall.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 9:46 a.m.

Miriam Raftery: And then after he showed off his new home,which as I recall took up a city block or close to it, he paid more than $30 million for a yacht. I remember the controversy and that you were the major complainant.

I didn't know this had been settled. Could you send me more? Email: [email protected]. Phone: 719-539-7831. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2017 @ 6:45 p.m.

Thomas Weller: George Orwell's "1984" is one of the great books of the 20th century. Yes, is scarily prescient. Political movements in Europe, the U.S., and in other countries are an ugly portent of what may happen. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 21, 2017 @ 8:32 p.m.

HERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE LEFT U-T WITHIN LAST MONTH OR SO. I have on good authority that Dan McSwain, a very good financial columnist, has left the U-T. Others that have gone, reportedly, within the last month are Laura Wingard, who covered public safety; Melanie Marshall, the North County bureau editor, and Hieu Tran Phan, a major editor.

Mark Platt has been brought in to head a team of writers. Best, Don Bauder

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petezanko Aug. 28, 2017 @ 7:34 a.m.

McSwain has a column in today's paper. Please retract your statement and offer a correction, and while at it, name your incorrect source.

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Ponzi Aug. 21, 2017 @ 10:47 p.m.

The editing has been atrocious for years. I began my subscription with a Groupon offer that gave me the L.A. Times for $20 a year – for Thursday through Sunday. They renewed it at $20.00 for several years. Then they wanted to bill me $179.00 a year and I decided that I could get enough news on the Internet.

So I could not cancel the subscription! I called and cancelled it. It continued to arrive on my doorstep. Then for a few months they kept billing me and I kept telling them I cancelled. The paper kept coming. When I told them I was not going to pay for the charges after my first cancellation request, they told me if I did not pay, I would be put into collection. I finally got the paper stopped. Then a couple weeks later I get a call from an L.A. Times subscription representative and he asked me what it would take to make me an L.A. Times subscriber again.

So I am like, “so what part of ‘cancel’ do you not understand?” Kemosabe. A Side Note: I have found to view the L.A. Times as an “industry organ,” in that is if I didn’t know better, I would think I was reading Advertising Age or Architectural Digest. It’s just newswire stuff and fluff.

The entire newspaper industry is in peril. There is no way to turn any of the print properties around. They will consolidate, polarize fragment. Until the “news” is controlled by those “most tech savvy.” The human race is at a tipping point where they get their data, ideas, perceptions from media more than church (or temple, mosque, …).

Our world community, via “leap-frog” technologies have created a global connectivity never known to mankind. The coming changes are going to come fast and unexpected.

The print newspaper industry is dead. In 20 homes on my block I am the only person to receive a daily print newspaper. It arrives at 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m because of print logistics or just the don’t care anymore – and the outsourcing of delivery functions. “In the day,” my morning paper arrived at 4:30 a.m. Which was nice as I left for work at 5:00 a.m. to start at General Dynamics Space Systems at 5:30 a.m.

Times sure have changed!

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Visduh Aug. 22, 2017 @ 3:13 p.m.

Gee, Ponz, why don't you tell us what you REALLY think?

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Flapper Aug. 25, 2017 @ 9:30 p.m.

Évitez les clichés, s'il vous plaît.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 10:07 a.m.

Flapper: What cliches? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 10:05 a.m.

Visduh: Ponzi tells is like it is. Best, Don Bauder

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Flapper Aug. 25, 2017 @ 9:41 p.m.

You got dat right, bro! The great irony of the consequences of technology is that the sorcerer's apprentice is, without exception, always mathematically correct.

With the rise of all the world's wisdom at our thumbtips, shall we be wise beyond our dreams or without dreams at all? Will your self-driving car mistake a bug on the lens for a boy after a ball?

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 10:13 a.m.

Flapper: There are a couple of things that worry me about self-driving cars. First, could foreign countries like Russia cyber-attack the cars, leading to chaos and bloodletting on the streets and highways? They have caused enough chaos in our elections.

Second I cite your analogy. Who doesn't run into trouble with anything that is computer-controlled? You might tell the car to drive you to the grocery store and it will drive you off a cliff. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 22, 2017 @ 12:10 a.m.

Ponzi: You make some excellent observations. The editing function seems to have disappeared at both the Times and the U-T. At the U-T, some time ago, a new owner abolished what we called "the rim," or editors. Reporters had to have the copy grammatically perfect the first time.

Both the Times and U-T have outsourced the sales function, as far as I can tell. There are enormous differences in what people pay. Basically, the best strategy is to quit the paper. You will be asked if you want it for a lower price. Say that you do not. Then you will get a proposition for a really low price. Take it. But your paper may not be delivered on time.

Metro dailies are in trouble because they are too late with too little with the product. If there is a signifiant news event, it will have been on TV or the internet the evening before. Advertisers know that and don't put ads in metro dailies anywhere as much as they used to.People can keep up with the news without a daily paper. Daily papers are in a death spiral. Best, Don Bauder

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Flapper Aug. 25, 2017 @ 9:22 p.m.

As one who used to write an occasional piece for some of the big national dailies (NYT, LAT, SFC,) and even the SDU/T, I rarely do it anymore because the editorial assistants apparently are interns who can't spel or recognise good English. The Union didn't even send a tear sheet or email acknowledgement, and no payment for last piece they published.

Speaking of pandas eating, shooting, and leaving, I believe that people who do not think don't know what to believe, not think. Is the distinction crucial? Is any distinction crucial anymore?

We all make misteaks, but as Cicero said, "To stumble twice on the same stone is a proverbial disgrace!"

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 10:15 a.m.

Flapper: Or as somebody said, to keep repeating something that has never worked is a sign of insanity. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 22, 2017 @ 9:25 a.m.

MORE TALK FROM U-T STAFFERS: I reached more staffers at the U-T. One of their main concerns is that the people going into the LA Times top slots are not experienced in the newspaper business. Since the Times runs the U-T, this ineptitude could lead to negative changes.

Another concern is executives coming from weak businesses. Yahoo is not a successful business. The Chicago Sun-Times has been a loser for some time. U-T employees have always worried that tronc is run by financial manipulators, not experienced business people, and particularly not experienced newspaper people. Best, Don Bauder

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Flapper Aug. 25, 2017 @ 9:46 p.m.

Not to worry--hath not the MBA's created this well-ordered world?

PS: Is "tronc" a proper noun? Is the CSM out the window?

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 10:18 a.m.

Flapper: The name "tronc" was created by an MBA who didn't know that names of companies should be capitalized. Everybody down the line was afraid to tell him that he had erred, so "tronc" stuck. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Aug. 22, 2017 @ 3:22 p.m.

There's plenty of irony in this situation. Starting in 1978 the Times made a major and costly attempt to shove the Copley papers aside. It tailored its SD County edition heavily to make it look as if it was a real SD paper. Yet, the Sunday circulation never got much past 100,000, and that didn't a profitable operation make. So, during the down times (pun intended) of the early 90's, the Times abandoned the attempt. Try as they might, too many local folks, and not all necessarily big fans of the Copley offerings, still saw the Times as an LA paper. And those of us who chose to live in greater SD didn't want to be part of or an appendage of LA. Neil Morgan said it well when he nicknamed it the "Outtatown Times."

Well for the past few years, the Times finally became the dominant paper in San Diego, in that it owned and ran the U-T. Since the ownership change, I find the same editorial stances in both papers, and always the sort of thing that the Times has featured for a very long time. They might be able to save a few bucks by just changing the name of the U-T to the LA Times San Diego Edition, because that is what it has become.

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Flapper Aug. 25, 2017 @ 9:49 p.m.

There was an LA Times San Diego Edition for a while. I was one who tried to talk them into it, so awful was the Onion at the time.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 10:30 a.m.

Flapper: If you were one who talked Times management into invading San Diego back then, I suppose you are persona non grata there now. That misadventure was a black eye for the Times.

This may sound like heresy, but I will state my opinion nonetheless: Probably the main reason the Times flopped in San Diego is that it didn't have the advertising. People read newspapers as much for the advertising as for the editorial content. Those of us on the editorial side are never supposed to utter that, but I just did. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 10:25 a.m.

Visduh: Actually, the Times's invasion of San Diego in the late 1970s led to two bad mistakes. First, of course, was the money it cost the Times. But second, and not well recognized, is that the Union and Tribune hired people willy-nilly, supposedly to counter the Times's invasion. The Union, in particular, became wildly overstaffed, and to a lesser extent, so did the Tribune. There were two people for every one job. This was expensive and led to more unhappiness when the two papers merged in the early 1990s, and the combined papers remained overstaffed.

Yes, now the U-T is becoming simply the San Diego edition of the Times. The Times succeeded when it is too late to save either paper…at least for more than a generation, and perhaps not that long. Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering Aug. 22, 2017 @ 7:14 p.m.

For the record, George Orwell is the author of 1984. Orsen Wells was a radio artist, actor and cinematographer famous for the radio version of War of the Worlds and Citizen Kane.

Also for the record, newsprint and news dailies have been dead now for a few years, they just refuse to accept their own demise. As for fair journalism, that seems to be dying at a slightly slower pace. But if we're not careful, it to my be gone soon.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 10:57 a.m.

Flapper: "How many apples did you eat today, Caesar?" "Et tu, Brute." Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 10:54 a.m.

JustWondering: Yes, Orson Welles did not write 1984. George Orwell did. It was a classic. I studied it in college in the 1950s.

Newsprint and news dailies are moribund, not dead. Give them another generation. Journalism is still thriving, but we are returning to the early days of newspapers, when they clearly represented a point of view. Ever wonder why so many papers have the word "Democrat" or "Republican" in their names, like the Democrat-Chronicle? In the early days of newspapers, almost all were slanted to appeal to a certain political/social audience. This is returning on the internet. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Aug. 22, 2017 @ 8:53 p.m.

Anybody else think that this is all part of a larger PLAN to dumb down MSM so that FAKE NEW$ is no longer challenged by any credible News outlet? We are now well beyond the TWILIGHT ZONE...

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 11:07 a.m.

Flapper: They won't get us. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2017 @ 11:06 a.m.

Founder: I don't think there is a large plan to dumb down the mainstream media. In many ways, the mainstream media are more savvy then they were 50 and 100 years ago. The words "fake news" are just an invention of a politician who is terrified that the truth will come out about his financial and political relationship with a foreign country. Best, Don Bauder

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