Saturday, May 26, 2007

O'Shea Fails To Promise No More Buyouts

One significant omission in L.A. Times "editor" James O'Shea's latest memo to the Times staff, as a friend noted to me today, was any promise that the latest destructive buyout will be the last. Already, there are rumors of another buyout in December.

But Bill Boyarsky, the retired Times city editor who in the past has had a good feel for these things, suggests in his blog on the forced retirement of Times columnist Al Martinez for L.A. Observed that O'Shea and "publisher" David Hiller are "short timers" seeking frantically to hold their own positions by throwing so many talented writers and editors over the side.

The question is, what will happen when the new Tribune Co. owner, Sam Zell, is fully in charge at the end of the year. Zell is already on the Tribune board, and presumably is giving advice to the inept Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons. But the latest buyout at the Times still bore the marks of FitzSimons' customary myopia, and one hope in this situation is that Zell, when he is completely in charge, will see the need for new hands in Los Angeles, and promptly send O'Shea and Hiller packing, not to mention FitzSimons. After all, Zell is said to be a smart man.

Boyarsky, in his blog, states at the conclusion:

"The current buyouts were not mandated to improve the paper. Improvement has nothing to do with it. They are the actions of frightened Tribune executives trying to cut spending to look good, so that Sam Zell, the next new owner, won't fire them. They are short timers in these operations. They don't care about the paper's past or its future, except for the immediate bottom line.

"Al (Martinez) is the best known of the buyout targets. Other talented people have been forced out. Some were veterans, and others in the mid course of their careers. Managerment has cut the guts out of the paper and the readers will suffer."

I hope, and expect, Boyarsky is right. Months before Mark Willes had the Times-Mirror newspapers sold out behind his back by a disloyal employee acting on behalf of the Chandler family, Boyarsky told me he was sure Willes and his laughably incompetent sidekick, Kathryn Downing, s would soon be gone.

When O'Shea and Hiller do go, let's hope their own buyouts will not be overly generous. Three dollars and kicks in the pants would suffice.

In the meantime, the Martinez buyout reflected, as Martinez himself said, "shabby" treatment of an old employee. And he was by no means the only victim.


We might note the passing this week of Roy Ringer, a former aide of the late great California Gov. Pat Brown and an editorial writer at the L.A. Times for 10 years, from 1974 to 1984. Ringer was one of the talented members of Tony Day's editorial page staff, and we can only hope the new Times editorial page editor, Jim Newton, will be able to assemble his own able staff.

Jerry Clark has a colorfully-written memoir of Ringer's career on the OFS wire today. Ringer was a thoughtful writer and will be missed.



Blogger Daniel Olivas said...

My post on the ouster of Al Martinez:

5/26/2007 5:14 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home