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New Publisher/CEO With No Newspaper Experience Named Amid Giant Shakeup At The L.A. Times

(Photo by Tom Fassbender via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Monday was a bloody day at the Los Angeles Times, as editor-in-chief and publisher Davan Maharaj was ousted alongside several other high-ranking editors, and a former Yahoo! and Fox executive was brought in as the new publisher and CEO. The new publisher, Ross Levinsohn, 54, has no newspaper experience, according to KPCC. He has previously served as the interim CEO and head of Global Media at Yahoo! and as former president of Fox Interactive Media at Fox. Tronc, the L.A. Times' unfortunately-named, Chicago-based parent company, "plans to invest more resources in the news organization to move it more quickly into the digital age," according to an L.A. Times article about the "dramatic shakeup" (their characterization) published just before 1 p.m. on Monday.

Several other senior editors, including Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin, Deputy Managing Editor for Digital Megan Garvey and Assistant Managing Editor of Investigations Matt Doig, were also let go Monday morning. “Ross isn’t coming in to manage further downsizing,” Tronc CEO Justin C. Dearborn said. “We have more to offer.”

Maharaj has only served as the L.A. Times' editor and publisher since March 2016, but he's been at the 135-year-old news organization for almost three decades. He began his journalism career as an intern at the paper in 1989, according to KPCC. Levinsohn will take over Maharaj's role as publisher, and veteran Chicago news executive Jim Kirk will act as interim editor of the paper. CBS LA reports that Kirk will work with Levinsohn in the search for a permanent editor-in-chief replacement.

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According to ReCode, Levinsohn has "spent a lot of time in big media companies (News Corp) and big internet companies (Yahoo) And while he has operational experience (he ran Yahoo for a stretch, prior to being displaced by Marissa Mayer), he’s best known as a dealmaker." Levinsohn is "super excited" to join the L.A. Times, according to his Twitter:

Here's more from the L.A. Times' own meta coverage:

The new leaders take over a news organization with flagging morale after years of management changes on top of huge shifts in consumer behavior that have roiled the entire newspaper industry. While still cranking out high-quality journalism, the paper hasn’t been able to keep pace with better resourced rivals on the East Coast, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. “My aspiration is to draw upon the incredible amount of work that has been done here and broaden it,” Levinsohn said. “In my adult life, there is never been a more important time for journalism, for facts and for reporting. We have incredible change going on in the world.”

Tronc chief executive Justin Dearborn said the company plans to invest more heavily in news in Washington, improve its culture report and its coverage of sports. Dearborn would like The Times to be a more authoritative voice reaching Asia and South America.

LA Observed reports that Levinsohn has called an all-hands meeting for 3 p.m. at the paper.