Hiller Firing 2 Men Of Principle, Looks For A Fool
Hiller graduated from Harvard Law School, but not every Harvard grad is another Sen. Barack Obama. There are quite a few who are unskillful, unwise and greedy. Hiller has enlisted himself in this group. Plus, he is a nut case. He has advocated making the Chicago Tribune a tabloid, supported concentration camps for Haitian and Cuban refugees and is a buddy and admirer of Ken Starr and Donald Rumsfeld.
Hiller writes, notably, in his prospectus for an editor: "We need to communicate closely, Always tell me what you think, especially if you disagree. If we always agreed, we wouldn't need both of us. Don't be public when we disagree, unless we talk about it first, or unless it's your swan song."
Saar has added the word "ouch" as a comment to this.
But in a long, blathering description by Hiller of what the new editor should join him in accepting as the Times' future, there is one highly significant omission, and that is any commitment whatsoever, any mention even, of the Times' extensive network of foreign and national bureaus.
The "focus," he writes, should be "relentlessly serving our audience in Los Angeles and Southern California."
For a man who fired editor James O'Shea after telling him at a lunch that the Times had to become "smaller and smaller," the emphasis on local and no mention of national and foreign is ominous.
Hiller was sent to Los Angeles by Dennis FitzSimons, then CEO of the falling Tribune Co., to cut down the Times to size, Like many Chicagoans, his horizons do not extend to Washington or abroad. To them, Al Capone is an historic figure.
And, now, he is apparently beginning the second part of his mission: Get rid of the Times' great strengths, its coverage of the nation and the world, and retire to covering how the garbage is collected, mainly Southern California news.
And watch Times circulation diminish to 100,000, if that.
For we live in a complicated and dangerous world. Under David Hiller, an atomic bomb could explode in Los Angeles, and the paper wouldn't have the staff to tell citizens here (those remaining alive) the background of what had happened.
So I don't think he's right about the future of the newspaper, and no principled editor could possibly agree with him about it.
Here's a man who, while admirably expanding the paper's Web site, has also cut out TV Guide, folded Opinion and the Book Review into a single truncated section, added worthless glitz like Image, while diminishing both the news hole and news gathering, and slashed what little remains of suburban coverage.
I'm waiting with a sense of forboding to see just who will agree to become editor under the circumstances of Hiller's prospectus. No one we know, or wish well for, I hope.
No, there is one thing necessary for the good of the Times now, and that is to send this jerk back to Chicago, and get a new publisher, loyal at least to the best traditions of the Times, remembering Otis Chandler and Tom Johnson.
"Fatuous" and "a pain in the ass," is the generous way a retired Timesman described Hiller earlier this week. I'd only add the phrase, "clear and present danger."
Labels: Tribune failures