Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dean Baquet Goes To New York Times

After waiting a decent interval to see whether the L.A. Times would return to sound ownership and whether he might be called back as editor, Dean Baquet has properly accepted an offer from the New York Times and will become its Washington Bureau Chief and an assistant managing editor, effective March 5.

When Baquet was fired on election day by that kingly jackass and charter member of the Tribune Company's "axis of stupidity," David Hiller, I remarked on this blog that we need not wish Baquet good luck, since it was obvious that he would have it. Now, he has, and he deserves all our best wishes and congratulations.

Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, was quoted in an article by Katherine Seelye in the NYT this morning as saying, "It's nice to have (Baquet) back where he belongs, at a paper where he can devote his talents and enthusiasm fully to the practice of journalism, in a bureau that can rise to all of his expectations."

Keller also said, that recent hires in the NYT's Washington bureau and Baquet's decision to return to the newspaper (which he quit to become managing editor of the L.A. Times in 2000), demonstrated that "in times of economic uncertainty, when others are downsizing, we invest."

This, unfortunately, is not the policy of Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons, Scott Smith, Hiller and other Tribune executives. They cut back news sections, fire people and accept a consistent lessening of the quality of their newspapers.

Asked if there was any trepidation on his part in hiring someone like Baquet, who had defied management in publicly resisting cut-backs at the Tribune, Keller replied with the utter contempt that Tribune deserves, "On my part? Are you kidding? Standing up to Tribune only adds to his luster."

Baquet explained his glorious insubordination by saying, "I got defiant when I thought it (Tribune's cut-backs) were mindless. "I understand the reality of newspapers, but they shouldn't eat themselves alive."

In a last gallant gesture to the L.A. Times and its past greatness, Baquet said, "I wish the L.A. Times the best. I love it. I helped build it...This (his decision to to go to the New York Times) is not a signal to run for the doors."

Maybe not, but If I were still a reporter at the L.A. Times, I think I would at least open the door and see what was out there.

As for Tribune, Newsday has a story this morning that the Chicago-lining Tribune board, mired in the culture of stupidity, now may give FitzSimons permission to seek outside investors in putting together his own buyout offer.

Anything is possible with this bunch of nincompoops. The Tribune board members are reported to be dissatisfied with the small size of the offers made for Tribune by Los Angeles investors Ron Burkle and Eli Broad, and by representatives of the Chandler family.

But they have nobody to blame but themselves for driving down the stock price, ruining the company and assuming vast debt in a crazed stock buyback plan last year. Just firing Baquet greatly diminished the value of the company to an outside buyer.

Now, if they continue to want FitzSimons to run the company, these directors should quickly undergo lobotomies. I would not wait for a skilled surgeon. Any impromptu operation will do.



Blogger LYT said...

Hi Ken - can you shoot me an email if you have a moment? I'm doing a piece on the Times and would very much like your input.



1/30/2007 5:08 PM  

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