Tronc Inc. (NASDAQ:$TRNC), a Chicago-based newspaper and online media company, has just fired a number of the top editors of its flagship newspaper, the Los Angeles Times. On Monday, August 21st, Tronc’s CEO Justin C. Dearborn announced that Ross Levinsohn, former media executive at Fox (NASDAQ:$FOXA) and interim chief at Yahoo (now owned by Verizon (NYSE:$VZ)), will be the Los Angeles Times’ new publisher and CEO. Along with Levinsohn, Jim Kirk, former Chicago news executive, was named interim editor of the Los Angeles Times. Kirk had been the publisher and editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. Tronc is still looking for an editor-in-chief.
Levinsohn and Kirk are taking Davan Maharaj’s place after he and other senior editors – like Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin, Deputy Managing Editor for Digital Megan Garvey, and Assistant Managing Editor of Investigations Matt Doig – were all fired on Monday morning. Maharaj had been the publisher and editor at the Los Angeles Times since March 2016 and has worked for the paper since 1989. In an email, Maharaj addressed his time at the Los Angeles Times, saying, “During the last 28 years, it has been an honor working with the best journalists in a great American newsroom. They are indomitable, and I wish them well in their continued fight to serve our community. I’m proud of the work we’ve done.”
The almost-sudden change in management was largely due to the paper’s struggles, as the newspaper industry continues to face changes presented by consumer behavior and the digital age. Besides this, Levinsohn and Kirk’s take-over means that they will have to face continued falling morale at the Los Angeles Times, thanks to years of constant changes in management. Additionally, the Los Angeles Times is also facing what looks like a losing battle with its competitors like the New York Times and the Washington Post.
“My aspiration is to draw upon the incredible amount of work that has been done here and broaden it,” Levinsohn noted on what he wishes to accomplish in his new position. “In my adult life, there has never been a more important time for journalism, for facts and for reporting. We have incredible change going on in the world.”
Given recent events, Dearborn stated that Tronc Inc. is planning to invest more in news about the developments in Washington D.C. The company is also looking to further improve culture reporting and sports coverage. The Los Angeles Times specifically is hoping to work towards becoming more prominent in Asia and South America, Dearborn said. The CEO remains adamant that the reason Tronc hired Levinsohn is not to downsize the Los Angeles Times, but to show people the paper has more to offer. “We just felt that we weren’t going in the direction that we needed to be going,” Dearborn said of the massive management shakeup at the Los Angeles Times. “The L.A. Times brand is our brand that has a global reach and we just weren’t getting there fast enough.”
“Ross is an avid reader, supporter, and he’s passionate about journalism,” Dearborn praised. “What we need right now is someone who has broader global vision and someone who can execute on that.”
Although Levinsohn has never worked at a newspaper, he’s had many experiences with other forms of media. He’d served as the president of Fox Interactive Media where he was in charge of digital properties like MySpace, Fox Sports, and Rotten Tomatoes. He had been one of the key peoples in creating Hulu, a TV and movie streaming service similar to Netflix (NASDAQ:$NFLX). After his time at Fox, Levinsohn went on to become Yahoo’s interim chief executive during a particularly hard time for the company. He also served as CEO at Guggenheim Digital Media, where he oversaw assets like the Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and Adweek. Recently, he co-founded a start-up consulting firm called Whisper Advisors.
While both the Los Angeles Times and Tronc have been profiting, revenue has been spiraling downwards as advertisers look towards digital platforms like social media sites instead of more traditional media like newspapers.
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