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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   October 1997  issue

Bylines   


By Debra Puchalla
Debra Puchalla is AJR's associate editor and deputy editor of Martha Stewart Living.      

The Times Mirror Shuffle

As if he needed another title, Times Mirror Chairman, President and CEO Mark H. Willes adds one anyway: publisher of the chain's flagship newspaper, the Los Angeles Times . Willes, 56, who debuted in journalism in 1995 as the company's chieftain, replaces Richard T. Schlosberg III , 53, who retires early and abruptly from his slot as publisher and CEO after 22 years of newspapering. Donald F. Wright , 63, a 19-year Times Mirror vet who had overseen the company's eastern papers, assumes Schlosberg's responsibilities as CEO. After lauding Wright and the management skills of Willes, who two years ago got the plum job Schlosberg wanted, the retiring publisher turned to the time-honored ritual of explaining that he wants "to spend much more time" with his family. Since Willes left General Mills to join Times Mirror two summers ago, the megacorp shut down New York Newsday , scrapped Baltimore's Evening Sun and axed nearly 1,800 jobs, and in the process improved what had been a foundering stock price. Willes, who has expressed the view that newspapers tend to be too negative, couldn't be reached for comment on what his publishership will mean for the paper. In a statement, he said he plans to "maintain the cherished journalistic traditions of the Times." The changing of the guard also prompts shuffling at other Times Mirror properties: The company plucks Publisher Mary E. Junck of Baltimore's Sun to fill Wright's slot, and Hartford Courant Publisher Michael Waller heads south to replace Junck. At the Courant, senior vice president and general manager Marty Petty moves up to the publisher's position.

More Courant Affairs

After climbing from intern to editor over 27 years at the Hartford Courant , David S. Barrett leaves the top spot at Connecticut's largest paper and pauses to decide on his next move: "When you work at one place for 27 years, 27 miles from your college campus, who knows what's out there?" In early September, the Times Mirror paper's then publisher and CEO, Michael Waller , asked him to step down and move over to the paper's editorial page. But Barrett, who as managing editor in 1992 oversaw the paper's Pulitzer-winning Hubbell telescope stories, refused. He doesn't expect to return to the Courant, where circulation has slipped to 217,795, in any position. Matthew Poland , Courant vice president for employee services and community affairs, is tight-lipped on what prompted the ouster. "We've agreed to keep the reasons leading up to the decision confidential," he says. "I think, despite the decision that was made, that David made significant contributions to the paper, and we are sorry to see him leave." Barrett, quite affably, also refuses to snipe, declining to describe the discussions with Courant management that preceded his departure, and continues to use the pronoun "we," in the present tense, in reference to the Courant.

Blue Chip Recruit

Incoming New York Times Washington Bureau Chief Michael Oreskes woos hotshot Jill Abramson from her assistant Washington bureau chief slot at the Wall Street Journal . Abramson, whose title will be enterprise editor, will head investigative projects in the Times' bureau. A key figure in the Journal's strong reporting on the Democrats' Asia money scandal, Abramson joined the paper in 1988 as a legal reporter. She is replaced by Gerald F. Seib , who had been the WSJ's Washington political editor. Thom Shanker , former Chicago Tribune foreign editor, goes east to the Times' D.C. bureau as weekend editor, and Adam Clymer ascends to the Washington editor spot, the bureau's number two post, from the assistant editor's position.

Tab Tempest

After just eight months at the helm, author and New York tab veteran Pete Hamill resigns from the editorship of the New York Daily News after sparring with owner Mortimer B. Zuckerman over the paper's direction. Hamill, 62, a popular figure with the News' staff, wanted to shave the paper's gossipy coverage and put out more hard news to broaden its readership. "I need the space for news," he said of his decision not to replace two departing gossip columnists back in March. Later in his brief tenure, he and Zuckerman got into a spat over the auction of Princess Diana 's gowns Zuckerman wanted the event covered; Hamill didn't consider it newsworthy. While Hamill was on vacation in August, copublisher Fred Drasner notified him that management was unhappy with the paper's course. After Hamill's return, the divorce was finalized. Executive Editor Debby Krenek takes over, though there's no word on whether she has the spot permanently. Hamill could not be reached for comment.

Salon Goes Retro

Articles from Salon , the ultrahip San Francisco-based online magazine, can now be read offline. Salon has struck a deal with United Feature Syndicate, which will peddle its content to newspapers in the U.S. and abroad. "It's to send out word of Salon far and wide, to those benighted souls who aren't online," says Editor and CEO David Talbot . "Of course, it's also a source of revenue." And he says he hopes that by next year it will be a big chunk of income. A couple dozen papers, including the Seattle Times , the Rocky Mountain News and the San Francisco Chronicle , have signed up.