20.1.08

LOSING TEAMS FIRE THE MANAGER. A similar principle appears to be emerging in print journalism.

The Los Angeles Times fired its top editor after he rejected a management order to cut $4 million from the newsroom budget, 14 months after his predecessor was also ousted in a budget dispute, the newspaper said Sunday.

James O'Shea was fired following a confrontation with Publisher David D. Hiller, the Times reported on its Web site. The story didn't say when the confrontation took place.

Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan said the newspaper would have no comment.

O'Shea's departure comes just a month after the Times' parent, Chicago-based Tribune Co., was taken private in an $8.2 billion buyout by real estate magnate Sam Zell.

The departure also follows that of his predecessor, Dean Baquet, who was forced to resign after he opposed further cuts to the newsroom budget in 2006.

O'Shea, then the Chicago Tribune's managing editor, was brought in to replace him.

Nobody ever said adaptation to the proper scale of an enterprise was easy, which goes a long way toward explaining public resistance to creative destruction at work, whether it be in print journalism, steelmaking, or higher education.

Hiller had joined the Times in 2006 after former Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson was ousted for refusing to carry out budget cuts ordered by corporate headquarters in Chicago.

A month later, Hiller dismissed Baquet and brought in O'Shea to replace him.

There are competing methods of delivering the news, which the print journalists are contending with, and that distinguishes print journalism from higher education (where the University of Phoenix is not as much of a threat to the regional comprehensives and mid-majors as access-assessment-remediation-retention is) as well as from steel, where the response of one old-line leading company (now bankrupt and purchased by some overseas bottom-feeder that put together a portfolio of companies that would make President Taft apoplectic) to a new technology was to commission the engineering staff to write a long report explaining why the method wouldn't work. The competing company, as we say, never got the memo.

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