From corporate suit to hero in fourteen months, Jim O'Shea has had quite a ride in Los Angeles. Coming in to the relief of the new publisher, David Hiller, O'Shea was going to be the Tribune Co.'s man in the LA Times news room. His successes in Chicago were the CV he would use to bludgeon the Angelinos to submit to their Midwest Gaultiers.
But, after 14 months something has gone wrong. The Stockholm syndrome or something akin to it has taken its toll. Like water dripping from the aquifer, being in LA wore down the Trib's man and he joined the enemy.
No more growth through a thousand cuts, diminishing the product, O'Shea told the Times newsroom, the product must grow through strategic investment. O'Shea listed several successful initiatives in his 14 months as overseer including a style section and a substantial increase in web traffic.
Because they no longer saw eye-to-eye, O'Shea, Hiller's man, is now out of a job. O'Shea is blaming the corporate bean counters, presumably from Chicago, for the fiasco. They are administering voodoo in the pursuit of profits without understanding the dark arts of journalism, O'Shea charges.
And, we'll listen to O'Shea because the enlightened and well-informed pundits who criticize Tribune Co for it rapaciousness will fete him. And we will listen, perhaps, wondering how it is that in three years, four top editorial positions have turned over at the LA Times.
But, right now, reading O'Shea's remarks, I don't see a leader with a plan for survival. And that's what newspapers need right now.
[Late edit: I never felt comfortable leaving that critique of O'Shea hanging there. For one thing, if O'Shea was having as great a year as he claimed, why hadn't Hiller been able to find the money to fund the operation to the tune of $3 million for another year? And then there were the claims of growth, which nagged at me. Here is another take that seems more in line with the prevailing "insiders" view of what has happened at the LA Times: LINK HERE to West Side Story.]