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Baquet says he considered resigning as Times editor

October 27, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — The editor of the Los Angeles Times said Thursday that he considered resigning after Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson was ousted for refusing to implement staff cuts ordered by the newspaper's owner, Tribune Co.

But Dean Baquet said he decided to put his concern for the paper before his relationship with Johnson -- and stay on.

Baquet told journalists attending the Associated Press Managing Editors conference that he agreed with Johnson that cutbacks proposed by Chicago-based Tribune would damage the newspaper's ability to cover its market. Baquet said his stand against further job reductions had not changed since the Oct. 5 arrival of the new Times publisher, David D. Hiller.

However, in an interview with The Times his first day on the job, Hiller said a realignment of costs with revenue at the newspaper was all but inevitable. "Finding efficiencies and making cuts aren't new in any business," he said. "Newspapers all over the country have done them."

Baquet said he had received hundreds of e-mails from journalists around the country supporting his stand.

"Newsrooms are angry now," said Baquet, a Pulitzer Prize winner who began his career at the States-Item in New Orleans as a police reporter. He urged editors to be more assertive in pushing back the tide of corporate cost cutting.

Over the last five years, The Times has endured more than its share of staff reductions, he said. "When the company wanted more cuts, I said no," he said.

"We're more than just a business," he said, and significant, continued cuts will affect the ability of newspapers to keep readers and advertisers.

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