Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The deep (LAT) divide

Zell may have excited some, outraged others, but one thing is for sure according to The New York Observer, "his guarantee of change only further undersored the newsroom deepest division: the debate over who should replace Mr. O'Shea as the paper's lead editor. On this issue, the paper is literally torn in two."

“It’s a battle over the heart and soul of the newspaper,” said Jeffrey Rabin, a transportation reporter and 20-year veteran at the paper. “What is the L.A. Times? The place is in a panic, it has been for some time and that’s why the choice of who’s going to be editor is so interesting. John [Arthur] represents one school, Russ [Stanton] represents the other school.”
A ship without a rudder is enough to make everyone run for a life jacket. Newsrooms with bargaining contracts in place tend to have more stability during rough, changing times. The captain of our ships (and the owners, too) change all the time, but unionized folks have less to wring their hands over during regime changes, though all would agree that everyone has a stake in who the new editor (or owner) is and the direction he/she will take the paper.

Even with a union contract, the ultimate decision comes from the top. Let's hope the new editor isn't one of Zell's business buddies.

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