Thursday, February 14, 2008

Russ Stanton: Next Lamb Being Led To The Slaughter?

Why Is This Man Smiling?

I'm not sure whether to congratulate Russ Stanton for being named the next editor of The Los Angeles Times, or to feel sorry for him.
Stanton gets to become the third editor in less than three years at what is still one of the nation's top newspapers, despite Tribune's best efforts.
And he takes the helm just a day after publisher David Hiller announced up to 150 job cuts at the Los Angeles Times Media Group.
Stanton, a 10-year Times veteran who most-recently served as Innovation Editor, has no choice but to play the role of good soldier.
Hiller, as shown by the ouster of
Stanton's predecessor, James O'Shea, will likely keep Stanton on a short leash. That smile you see above could be quickly wiped out if the Times is asked to make a disproportionate sacrifice to help pay down Sam Zell's debt service.
Still, Stanton may be the one who is in the best position to meld the print and online versions, which could very well determine the future viability of the paper, as it continues to hemorrhage readers and advertisers as the California economy grinds to a standstill.
For now, I'm skeptical about how much he can accomplish given the Sisyphean task that awaits. But if you care at all about quality newspapers, you have no choice but to root for him. Every other editor and reporter at the Times would do well to follow suit.

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