Beutner’s firing appears to have stemmed, at least in part, from a dispute with Tribune Publishing leadership over whether The Times and its newly acquired sister paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, should stay in the Tribune family.
Los Angeles County supervisors have called on Chicago-based Tribune Publishing Co. to “restore local, established and invested leadership” at the Los Angeles Times. Other Tribune papers could also see layoffs.
The board joins a group of influential business and civic leaders who last week signed an open letter to Tribune CEO Jack Griffin expressing disappointment over Beutner’s dismissal.
Forty-eight hours before Union-Tribune and L.A. Times Democratic publisher Austin Beutner was fired last week, the U-T was out with a prescient Labor Day editorial entitled “The foreboding future of work”.
Griffin and Beutner clashed over a variety of issues, some involving core strategic notions and Griffin’s preference for marked centralization of some tasks. There were marked stylistic and personality differences, too. He was changed by Tim Ryan, the previous writer of the Baltimore Solar, the place he ushered in vital value reductions.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said, “We’re not trying to run the business of the newspaper”. Meanwhile, the news staff hasn’t gotten a cost of living raise in several years, this year they are being forced to use up stored vacation time, and they are under greater pressure to re-package news for print and a variety of digital products.
The Beutner era heralded the hiring of famed undocumented journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and former New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones.
The Times would see the bulk of those reductions, though other newspapers would also get cuts.
Warren is a former managing editor and Washington bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, as well as that paper’s media columnist, so he has Tribune sources.
Job reductions will initially come from buyout proposals, similar to the round of buyouts and layoffs that claimed about 100 positions at The New York Times at the end of 2014.
In addition, Tribune Publishing was stripped of its real estate (including the Times Mirror Building in the heart of DTLA) and its very valuable investment in Classified Ventures (Cars.com, Apartments.com) which was later sold for a country fortune.
Los Angeles Occasions Layoffs: Tribune Dealing with New Monetary Issues