The board of directors of Tribune Publishing Co., parent company of the Los Angeles Times, expressed confidence Thursday in the paper’s newly appointed publisher in the wake of calls for local leadership to be restored.
“We affirm our confidence in the ability of Jack Griffin, chief executive officer; Tim Ryan, publisher & CEO of the California News Group; and the entire management team to execute our strategy, drive great journalism and create engaging and rewarding experiences for readers and marketing partners,” the board’s statement reads.
Ryan, formerly the publisher of the Baltimore Sun, was named publisher/CEO of the California News Group — which also includes the San Diego Union-Tribune — following the Sept. 8 firing of Austin Beutner, a former Los Angeles deputy mayor who held the job for about a year.
Beutner’s replacement by Ryan prompted concerns from local elected officials and civic leaders, who urged Tribune Publishing to restore local leadership at The Times or sell the paper to Los Angeles-area business leaders.
“We’re not trying to run the business of the newspaper. We’re essentially standing up for our town,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said earlier this week, when the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution calling for local control of the paper.
He said The Times should be led by those who understand Los Angeles’ history and its future.
Last week, a group of influential business and civic leaders signed an open letter to Tribune CEO Jack Griffin expressing disappointment over Beutner’s dismissal. Among those signing the letter were former mayors Antonio Villaraigosa and Richard Riordan and billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad.
Broad recently made an offer to buy The Times and the San Diego Union- Tribune, but it was rejected by Tribune Publishing, according to reports.
Ridley-Thomas said Tuesday he was particularly concerned about a Poynter Institute report that The Times’ newsroom could soon be hit by another round of layoffs.
The statement released Thursday by the Tribune Publishing board made no reference to possible layoffs.
“We are fully committed to our five-point transformation plan to create value for all shareholders and stakeholders alike, which we launched last year when Tribune Publishing became a publicly traded company,” according to the board.
“Our California News Group, which includes the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune, is a cornerstone of our company’s portfolio and a key component to our success in the future. Tribune Publishing is deeply committed to these world-class institutions, the communities of Southern California and all the other markets in which we operate.”
— Wire reports
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