John Puerner Steps Down As Publisher of Times
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.