Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Edited Out

Two editors of major newspapers have resigned in the wake of cutbacks at their papers.

The editor of the Chicago Tribune resigned yesterday, six days after its parent company ordered the paper to cut 14 percent of its newsroom staff and slash the number of news pages it publishes by the same percentage.

Ann Marie Lipinski, a widely admired figure in the newsroom who has run the paper since 2001, did not cast her decision as a protest against the Tribune Co.’s continuing cutbacks, which are shrinking the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and eight other papers. But Tribune staffers say the timing and abruptness of her resignation — it takes effect Thursday — made clear that Lipinski wanted no part of the fourth round of cutbacks in three years, which will eliminate 80 of the paper’s 578 editorial jobs.

That’s from the Washington Post. Here’s how the Tribune put it:

To the extent that daily newspapers reflect the interests, priorities and personalities of those who direct their newsrooms, the one you now are reading is poised to shift.

Ann Marie Lipinski, 30 summers after she arrived at the Chicago Tribune for what was supposed to be a three-month internship and seven years after becoming its first female editor, on Monday announced her resignation from the newspaper she called “the love of my life.” Her resignation is effective Thursday.

Succeeding Lipinski, 52, will be Gerould W. Kern, 58, who has been Tribune Publishing’s vice president of editorial since 2003 and in recent weeks has been in charge of news and features for Tribune Media Services.

Meanwhile, out in Los Angeles, David Hiller has left the Times after 21 months.

Los Angeles Times Publisher David D. Hiller resigned Monday after a 21-month tenure that encompassed the departures of two Times editors and plans for the sharpest staff and production cuts in the newspaper’s history amid a continuing slide in advertising revenue.

Although newspapers across the country have been suffering severe revenue declines, The Times’ performance under Hiller has been particularly disappointing. The paper has experienced the steepest drop in cash flow of any in the Tribune chain of 11 daily newspapers. Hiller also acquired a reputation among Tribune brass as an indecisive leader, according to senior Times executives; The Times has been without an advertising manager since February, for example.

Responding to the criticism of his management style, Hiller said, “It’s fair to say that along with our colleagues here, we tried to make the decisions that were best for the paper.”

A statement he e-mailed to Times staff suggested that he was ousted by Tribune Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Zell: “Sam’s the boss and he gets to pick his own quarterback.”

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on how you, dear reader, see the future of the newspaper business.