Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jeff Johnson Acted Honorably At L.A. Times; Now, A Curse On His Successor

Jeff Johnson was a brave man, who lived up to his highest responsibilities, to protect the newspaper which he had been assigned to lead. He could easily have continued to be a Chicago toady, subservient to inept and unscrupulous businessmen from an inferior city, but he changed in Los Angeles. He became loyal to the L.A. Times, to Los Angeles and to California. Honor to him. Unlike most businessmen, he deserves every bit of praise that can be given him.

And Dennis FitzSimons and Scott Smith can best be compared tonight to the people who have starred in the other business disgraces of recent years. Their goal has been for some time now to ruin the L.A. Times and sacrifice the lives and careers of the people who work for it. They are as destructive and degenerate as Ken Lay or Bernie Ebbers could possibly have been.

Curses on them! And curses on the man they appointed to succeed Mr. Johnson, David Hiller, a low class lawyer who worked with Ken Starr no less, and who has come to Los Angeles to wield FitzSimons' axe.

The suitable reception to Hiller is to put the kind of stink bombs in his office that were once used in Chicago to protest the thuggish police of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Those L.A. Times staffers who say Hiller should be given a chance are mistaken. This is a man who has spoken of making the Chicago Tribune a tabloid. He knows no more about journalism than Mark Willes did. He's a fucking lawyer, for goodness sake!

Hiller should be made to feel as unwelcome in Los Angeles as the Nazis were in Norway after they occupied the country on April 9, 1940.

As for Dean Baquet, I think there is no point in his trying to captain a sinking ship. If he has a good job offer somewhere else, like the Washington Post, he should take it. He probably can do no more than he has already done. And his departure at a time like this might put another nail into the Chicago coffin.

Also, we can legitimately have nothing but contempt for David Useem, the professor at the Wharton School who suggested today that it was highly proper that Johnson be fired after defying the policies of the home office. No wonder Useem is a professor at a business school, when we all know that businessmen are mostly highly unethical jackasses, without a care in the world for anything but making money. They have given up every value they may have had as children and become ethically contemptible.

Fortunately, though, the Tribune Co. will be making less money. It is running all its properties into the ground. Its nutty executives can think only of serving Wall Street in a desperate hope that their stock price will go up. Wise investors will now let it sink like a rock.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times, perhaps, should be replaced. The municipal leaders who have sought to buy the newspaper could form their own newspaper, hire the Times staff and the Times' remaining subscribers could then drop the Tribune Company's paper like a hot potato. This would be a possible solution to the present troubles.

In the meantime, go home, Mr. Hiller. Get out of Los Angeles! What we need here is a kind of insurrection that will blow this bunch of scoundrels back to their rightful places in the sewers of Chicago. Let's hope FitzSimons drops into them and doesn't come up.

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4 Comments:

Blogger SBStarFreePress said...

Fantastic post, and thank you for writing it. I hope you don't mind if I link it?

It fits with the goings on up here, since the NYT jettisoned the SBNP back in 2000.

Disgusting conduct, and not NEWSPAPER PEOPLE conduct, by a long shot.

I love my LA Times, but this is a very sad day indeed.

from one with 20 years in the industry..

now---

SBStarFreePress

10/05/2006 11:59 PM  
Blogger Kanani said...

Bravo!

10/06/2006 1:14 AM  
Blogger Sheila said...

Ken,
Right on! I posted on this too. It's funny, but with all the media bashing that goes on, some of us still recognize how important it is to a free society to have good journalists, publishers and editors. My husband said, "Johnson wasn't too smart to throw himself in front of the train." My more idealist high school senior said, "Wow, that was brave."

Just like a college or university, a newspaper is an institution more than a business in my mind. Wise leaders will recognize the difference or else the heart is lost. And what the hell are they teaching in business school these days any way?

10/06/2006 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Frank Cruz said...

A very sad day.

Make no mistake about what is happening. Jeff Johnson was sent to LA to take care of Tribune business but for whatever reason he couldn't carry out the mission. Now David Hiller has been put in place. Tribune isn't taking any chances this time. He is here to handle the situation and he will do it.

No one should be fooled into giving him a chance. No contact with the man. Shun him. Give him no welcome. He is not here to be your friend or savior. He is here to do what ever he needs to for the profit margin of the Tribune Company. And that mission has nothing to do with good journalism, a quality newspaper or a quality future for the Los Angeles Times.

I understand a business wanting and needing to make money. That isn't the issue here. Tribune is making money, the issue is greed.

I for one will not greet Mr. Hiller. I will turn my back to him which is the welcom he deserves. For those who fear that could cost you your job, wake up. Your job is what he came for and he will have it one way or another. Stand up to the little man from Chicago while you have a chance.

10/06/2006 8:59 AM  

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