Tribune Co. ousted Jeffrey M. Johnson, the publisher of its largest newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, on Thursday after Johnson had refused to make what he considered potentially damaging staff cuts ordered by the media conglomerate.
The parent company named David D. Hiller, who has been publisher of the Chicago Tribune, to succeed Johnson.
The move follows a highly publicized show of defiance last month by Johnson and Times Editor Dean Baquet against the latest proposed Tribune cuts, which drew the ire of not only Times staffers but those at some of Tribune’s 10 other daily newspapers.
Johnson had to go first, as he had no right to expect to hang onto his job after siding with his employee instead of the people who pay him. Now it’s up to Baquet to decide if he’ll follow orders or go away.
The big question, regardless of Baquet’s fate, is whether Hiller or his successor can do anything to stop the Times’ hemorrhaging subscriber base. If the Times can’t figure out that their years of disgracefully biased and all too often simply erroneous reporting are taking a brutal toll and do something about it, the decline will continue.