Thursday, March 24, 2005

John Puerner Steps Down As Publisher of Times

Written From Chicago --

The news that John Puerner is stepping down, he says of his own volition, as publisher of the L.A. Times is a striking step. I stress right away, I don't know what it means.

Since Tom Johnson took over as publisher in 1989 under the Chandlers, The Times has now had six publishers, if memory serves, and is about to have a seventh. All in 16 years, less than one in every three years.

This fact, alone, shows the paper is in a kind of crisis, since with new publishers come new policies and often new personnel. The Times has suffered from the inconstancy.

From what little I saw of him, I personally liked Puerner. But I wish he had done more to keep circulation from sinking, and had asserted himself more in Los Angeles life. He should have argued more against the cutbacks when FitzSimmons summoned him to the Burbank Airport last year. Under Puerner, according to the Wall Street Journal, advertising sunk 14%, and circulation was down more than 200,000. On those results, he was the most unsuccessful of the six publishers who followed the glory years.

Good luck to the new man, Jeffrey Johnson. But under Tribune ownership, his fortunes may be problematic. It would be better, all things considered, for California interests to buy The Times. That's what this blog will continue to be dedicated to. The Tribune, I am convinced, doesn't have the assertiveness to keep The Times a great newspaper.

In the meantime, let's wish John Puerner well.


Anonymous Edward D. Padgett said...

Dear Mr. Reich,

Many of us long term employees of the Los Angeles Times salute you for your words of wisdom. Thank you for your blog.

For thirty-one of my thirty-two years at the Los Angeles Times all I have heard was quality, the past year I have heard nothing but cut costs at any price, so quality has been removed from out vocabulary.

As a printer, I'm concerned with what our subscribers see, verses what they read, in the newspaper. It has been so hard to reset my values to allowing anything to go onto the streets to save a buck.

We have a club of retired and working pressmen (Los Angeles Times Pressmen's Twenty Year Club), would you like to be our guest on October 8th, 2005 at Taix Restaurant? Dinner and drinks will be on me, if you would visit with us.

Many of my co-workers look forward to your daily views, your readers enjoy what your saying.

Thank you Ken,
Ed Padgett
Senior Press Operator

3/27/2005 9:52 PM  
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