Now May Be The Time For Staff Activism Toward Tribune Co. At L.A. Times
Soon after the L.A. Times was sold to the Tribune Co. in 2000, and CEO Mark Willes was sent packing with an overly-generous severance package, the University of Oregon gave the Times staff an award for its activism in protesting Willes and Kathryn Downing's involvement in the Staples scandal.
It was the decision of the Tribune-appointed editor, John Carroll, not to publish a word of the Oregon award in the Times. Carroll was anxious to put the spirit of rebellion in the Times staff behind him, not to encourage more of it.
But this may well be the time for Times reporters and editors to make known directly to Tribune management their antipathy to any further cost cutting at the Times, and to the unambitious attidude the Tribune Co. has shown to its star paper in Los Angeles.
Such an activist revival by the staff could well put Dean Baquet, the new editor, in a stronger position in negotiating with the Tribune owners, and could even fortify the backbone of Jeffrey Johnson, the new publisher.
It goes without saying, of course, that any such activism must be done independently of Baquet and Johnson. Perhaps it would be even better if they were known to be opposed to restlessness of the staff.
Certainly, the staff should be restless. There are many reports of further impending cutbacks at the Times that could cost many more staff jobs, could result in further losees of advertising and circulation, and keep the paper on a downward spiral.
It's time for a staff meeting. I'm not advocating any pointless move toward unionization, the wrong way to go. But I am saying a little noise now could avoid more discomfort later.
I'm sure the Times has many staff members ready to speak to the Tribune ownership in no uncertain terms.
And, so, as President Lincoln once cabled the governor of Pennsylvania: "The necessity of being READY increases. Look to it."
The Times staff should rise again for a quality paper, just as they did when they knocked down Willes and Downing.