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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mistah Puerner, He Dead

This graf from James Rainey's story on Los Angeles Times publisher John Puerner's ouster, and his replacement Jeffrey Johnson, ought to strike fear into the heart of Times staffers:

"Born in the Chicago area, Johnson earned his bachelor's degree in accountancy at the University of Illinois and a master's degree in operations management at the University of Chicago."

In other words, to the parochial, insular Babbitts that run the Tribune Company from Michigan Avenue, he's "one of us."

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that Puerner--who has the resume of a Tribune company loyalist--went native, seduced by the glory of all those revenue-neutral Pulitzers, and was unwilling to make his numbers by laying off any more of the folks that won them.

Presumably Johnson will be more accomodating to his old U of I alums. I do know that the Tribune Tower is periodically aghast at how precipitous the circ drop has been at the L.A. Times every time a new batch of internal numbers makes the executive rounds. One of the only comforts these days to Tribune editors--who are facing their own steep reader drop-off--is that the L.A. Times is doing worse.

And compared to the Tribune, which is seen as the model paper in the Tribune Tower, the Times is still vastly overstaffed.