The Los Angeles Times, whose tumultuous 2018 has already seen newsroom employees unionize and its publisher placed on paid leave for an alleged pattern of sexual misconduct, has named its third editor-in-chief in six months, according to multiple reports.
Tronc, the paper’s embattled parent company, is expected to announce today that Jim Kirk will replace Lewis D’Vorkin as top editor, with D’Vorkin moving to a corporate role as Tronc’s chief content officer. The move, reported by the New York Times and Niemen Lab’s Ken Doctor, comes during a period of newsroom unrest. Disney banned the paper last fall after its series on the close ties between the company and the city of Anaheim, and just last week CJR delivered a takedown of D’Vorkin, whom it labeled the “prince of darkness” for his demeanor and controversial editorial strategies.
Kirk had been in the process of stepping in at the New York Daily News, another Tronc property in turmoil as two top editors face their own sexual harassment investigation. While reports cast Kirk, who did a brief stint in L.A. as interim editor last summer, in a favorable light compared with D’Vorkin, the abrupt series of management moves is taking its toll.
Matt Pearce, a Times reporter who has been a union organizer, tweeted that none of the rank and file were notified about the change before the New York Times report went online late Sunday. Another of his tweets read: “We unionized not a minute too soon.”
While the larger picture has been stormy at Tronc, which spun off from Tribune in 2013, the recent efforts by the company’s management have been rewarded by Wall Street. Since ending merger talks in November 2016 with Gannett, a similar legacy media publisher of newspapers, Tronc shares have gained 62%. They are up a fraction in today’s trading at around $21.