Tribune’s Second Shoe Drops: ‘L.A. Times’ Publisher Quits

By: E&P Staff

Los Angeles Times Publisher David Hiller resigned Monday, just hours after the editor of the flagship Chicago Tribune, Ann Marie Lipinski, announced she was quitting.

Hiller?s resignation brought an end to a tumultuous 21-month tenure at the paper in which two Los Angeles Times editors quit amid huge staff reductions, and his attempt to move the newspaper?s monthly magazine from the newsroom to the business side revived memories of the 1999 Staples Center ?revenue-sharing? controversy.

No successor was named. The resignation was reported on the Times Web site, which did not quote Hiller. He was not immediately available for comment.

Hiller replaced Jeffrey M. Johnson, who was forced out in the fall of 2006 after resisting cost-cutting directives from Tribune corporate offices in Chicago. Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, Hiller asked for the resignation of Editor Dean Baquet.

Last January, after Tribune was taken private in a deal engineered by Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell, Baquet?s successor — longtime Chicago Tribune veteran James O?Shea — resigned, citing pressures to cut costs.

To swing the $8.5 billion deal, Zell loaded Tribune with debt. A $1 billion payment on the $13 billion total debt comes due at the end of the year, and Tribune has been selling assets such as Newsday and has put the Chicago Cubs baseball team and its landmark ballpark,
Wrigley Field, up for sale.

Zell has also ordered Tribune?s dozen dailies to reduce their newsholes and staff quickly this summer.

Earlier this month, Hiller and O?Shea?s successor, Russ Stanton announced a cut of 250 jobs in the workforce, including 150 newsroom positions.

“David’s tenure here was marked by unprecedented financial challenges and economic instability,” Stanton said in a statement. “He was extremely supportive of our efforts to restructure our newsrooms for the long term, and he provided us with the resources that led to the enormous growth in readership of latimes.com. I wish him the very best. We look forward to working with his successor to keep the Los Angeles Times an indispensable institution that produces great journalism every day.”

Prior to coming to Los Angeles, Hiller had been the publisher of the Chicago Tribune. He has also been the head of Tribune Interactive, a senior vice president for development, and corporate counsel.

Hiller?s resignation followed Lipinski?s announcement Monday morning that she was resigning after seven years as editor of the flagship Tribune. Her resignation followed by days news that the paper was laying off 80 jobs in a newsroom of about 580. In a statement, she said she had contemplated leaving for some time, and her resignation was not because of ?any one event.?

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