Ask for Cancellations Unless Tribune Co. Rescinds Cuts or Sells to Owners Willing to Preserve and Build the Times
Santa Monica, CA — As the Chicago-based Tribune Company forced out popular Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet today and named another Chicagoan to take over the newsroom, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) mounted a “Take Back Our Newspaper” campaign on behalf of readers. The non-profit, non-partisan FTCR asked subscribers to send a fax from its web site — http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/corporate/subscriberrevolt/ — demanding that Tribune stop the endless rounds of newsroom cutbacks that have forced out two successive publishers and two executive editors or face a further loss of subscribers.
“It is especially egregious that Tribune’s action comes on Election day, when L.A. Times journalists are working at top speed and for long hours to cover a critical national election,” said Jamie Court, president of FTCR. “Though Baquet honorably urged his newsroom staff to focus on election coverage, not on his ouster, it is obvious that Los Angeles’s largest news organization wanted to bury this news in the maelstrom of election day, even at the risk of shaking up its staff on a critical day of covering the news.”
Baquet leaves a month after Tribune ousted the newspaper’s publisher, Jeff Johnson, over his own refusal to cut editorial staff. “Baquet was seen as the last line of defense for the newspaper’s editorial integrity,” said Court. “His removal is a sign that the hog butchers from Chicago will be slashing jobs in the newsroom of Los Angeles’s only remaining major newspaper, even as local suitors seek to purchase the newspaper from the company at a fair price.”
It’s time for subscribers of the Los Angeles Times to unite and take their newspaper back, said FTCR. The group asked Times subscribers to begin by sending a fax posted at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/corporate/subscriberrevolt, demanding that the Tribune Co. either reinstate Baquet, rescind its next round of cuts and concentrate on building the newspaper’s coverage, or sell it to local owners ready to pledge similar action before the end of the year. Without such changes, subscribers can threaten to cancel their subscriptions by Jan. 1.
Here’s Baquet’s memo to staff:
“By now you’ve seen the Wall Street Journal story on L.A. Observed (www.laobserved.com) that I’ll be leaving the paper. Believe me, I didn’t want it to come out this way.”
“This election day, readers who care about having a great Los Angeles newspaper should un-elect the Tribune’s management of the L.A. Times,” said FTCR research director Judy Dugan, a former editorial board member of the Times. “Tribune’s strategy is aimed at short-term improvement of the stock price and saving the hides of Tribune executives, not at reinforcing a great local paper.”
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