L.A. Times editor quits, refused to make cuts

Business Digest

November 08, 2006|By James Rainey

LOS ANGELES -- Dean P. Baquet was forced to resign as editor of the Los Angeles Times at the request of the publisher after he refused to agree to further cuts of his editorial staff.

Baquet's departure was to have been announced tomorrow, but word leaked out yesterday afternoon and the 50-year-old editor confirmed to his staff that he would be leaving the paper Friday.

Baquet will be replaced by James E. O'Shea, who currently is managing editor of the Chicago Tribune and a long-time employee of Tribune Co., which owns the Times and 10 other daily newspapers, including The Sun of Baltimore and Newsday of Long Island, N.Y.

O'Shea is expected to assume the editor's job Monday.

Baquet's fight with Tribune became public in late September when he and then-Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson defied calls for reductions in the Times newsroom staff of about 940.

Baquet told a somber group of reporters and editors gathered in his office yesterday that he did not know whether staff cuts would now proceed, but it's widely believed among newsroom executives that substantial reductions will be ordered, probably by next year.

"Just remember, it's a great paper and it will stay that way," Baquet told the group.

Times Publisher David D. Hiller, a former Tribune executive who took over from Johnson a month ago, and Baquet had a series of conversations last week in which Hiller made it plain that cuts are on the way.

Baquet repeated his position that he would not oversee further staff reductions, saying they would harm the paper's ability to cover the world, national affairs, and a huge and diverse local community.

James Rainey writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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