Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Time, Inc. Lays Off Some Top Executives, And Tribune-Times Could Too

When the layoffs come, Time, Inc. is certainly not the first to axe some top people. You might recall that the French Revolution climaxed with the director of the guillotining, Robespierre, being guillotined himself. And Goebbels murdered his own children at the end, undoubtedly because he loved them so much he couldn't bear them going through de-Nazification.

So when Ann S. Moore, chairwoman and chief executive of Time Inc., in the words of David Carr of the New York Times, "moved with shocking swiftness, aiming at chiefs more than Indians, because that's where the money is," she wasn't the first executive to do in so many top people. She was following Stalin's technique, but she probably did so for far better reasons.

Among those removed, just before Christmas, when all the best cutbacks are implemented, at Time, Inc., were Jack Haire, chief of corporate sales, a 28-year-employee, Richard Atkinson, a former chief financial officer who was heading the company's news and information group, and Eileen Naughton, president of Time magazine "and one of the rising young stars in the business." You don't suppose she was such a rising young star that Moore perceived her as a possible rival.

And, moving on to Time's bureau chiefs, Moore wisely picked some with no union protection, including the chiefs of the Moscow, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo bureaus. Perhaps she had dined at them all and not always been satisfied by the fare.

So, I got to thinking, why not implement such layoffs at the Tribune Co. and the Los Angeles Times? After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander, and rather than get rid of everyone who has ever disgraced the company by winning a Pulitzer Prize, why not go on to a more glorious list?

So, just in the spirit of Christmas week, here's my list. It's not meant to be all-inclusive.

At the executive suites of the Tribune Co., we could get rid of Dennis FitzSimmons and Scott Smith.

At the executive suites of the L.A. Times, how about Jeffrey Johnson, Andres Martinez and John Montorio?

I don't want to cut too deeply, because the Lord knows, we need somebody to run the company and do the editing.

But what about David Lauter and that exciting Times columnist, Ron Brownstein?

That's enough for now. After all, there will be other Christmases, and once the trend is set, we could do this every year. And there are other holidays, like Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July.

And, as Robespierre found out, sometimes the guillotiner gets guillotined. So what about Anne S. Moore at Time, Inc? Couldn't happen to a nicer lady.

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