Summarized by Kent Larsen
Willes Replaced At Los Angeles Times'
LA Weekly 28Apr00 P2
by Howard Blume
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- The Tribune Co.'s takeover of the Los
Angeles Times is proceeding, and LDS Church member Mark Willes is now
out. Willes was replaced as Chairman, President and CEO of Times
Mirror, the Times' parent company on Tuesday, marking the end of his
era at the Times. The merger hasn't completed yet, and Willes still
remains on the board until it is complete.
Willes' successor, John P. Puerner who is moving to the Times from
the Tribune company's Orlando Sentinel, immediately distanced himself
from Willes' policies, including his oft-ridiculed plan to double the
Times' circulation. Puerner implied that Willes' circulation games
came at too high a cost, "You sell [papers] to everyone who wants to
buy them," he said. "But you don't pay people to take them." Puerner
instead said that the Times' future lied in "multimedia and
broadband," providing news information and content to consumers
however and whenever they want it, "as long as we get something for
Puerner also hinted that the Staples Center scandal that occurred on
Willes' watch was a mistake. The scandal erupted when it became clear
that Times management violated ethical standards by devoting an
entire Sunday magazine to the new arena, then splitting profits from
the issue with the arena's owners. "Editorial integrity comes before
everything else," said Puerner. "All of us have faced dilemmas like
this in the past, and we know how to handle them."
Willes and his hand-picked publisher Kathryn Downing gave parting
gifts to many staffers, autographed posters of the Times building
framed at night against the L.A. skyline.