The Los Angles Times‘ billionaire benefactor Patrick Soon-Shiong dropped a bombshell today in his first meeting with the staff: that the newspaper would move from its historic building in downtown Los Angeles to El Segundo.
Soon-Shiong said the Times’ lease on the building expires in June, and that work already has begun on new editorial offices in the nearby second city, according to sources. The New York Times reported the relocation plans in a lengthy profile of newspaper’s buyer.
That disclosure set the newsroom buzzing:
The biotech entrepreneur, who is considered the richest man in Los Angles, offered to acquire The Los Angeles Times from Tronc for $500 million.
The sale has yet to close, though Soon-Shiong dismissed a New York Post story that described negotiations to sell the Times and San Diego Union-Tribune papers as “stalled,” creating an opening for Apollo Global Management to possibly scoop up Tronc’s publishing holdings.
Soon-Shiong told Times’ Assistant Business Editor Andrea Chang that reports of “stalled” negotiations are “not true at all.”
Reaction from the long-suffering Times’ newsroom — both public and private — is generally upbeat. “He won over the staff when he compared us to battered children,” said one source.
Los Angeles Times’ education reporter Joy Resmovits noted what appears to be the new editorial mission, which was projected on a large screen beneath the newspaper’s masthead during the staff presentation.
Times staff writer Carolina Miranda tweeted that Soon-Shiong talked about the importance of building trust in an era of fake news, which he called “the cancer of our time.” In an interview with the New York Times, the buyer talked of creating a West Coast counterweight to the New York Times and Washington Post, with a heavy-hitter as editor.