L.A. Times Ousts Lewis D’Vorkin as Editor Amid Top-Level Turmoil, Names Jim Kirk

Kirk, who previously served as publisher and editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, joined The Times’ parent company, Tronc, in August

Last Updated: January 28, 2018 @ 10:25 PM

The Los Angeles Times has ousted its new editor-in-chief, Lewis D’Vorkin, and replaced him with Jim Kirk, the former interim editor, the newspaper said on Sunday night.

Reached by TheWrap, D’Vorkin – who was the subject of a lengthy critical article in the Columbia Journalism Review on Thursday – confirmed that he would no longer be editor-in-chief but would continue on as Chief Content Officer at the troubled newspaper.
The paper published an online article on Sunday that said:

Kirk, who previously served as publisher and editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, joined The Times’ parent company, Tronc, in August. He was named interim editor of the Times on Aug. 21 after a sweeping shake-up of top editors, but Kirk stepped aside after D’Vorkin joined The Times in early November.

But this time around, Kirk, 52, is being named the permanent editor to lead The Times’ newsroom, said Marisa Kollias, spokesperson for Tronc. D’Vorkin, who was the chief product officer at Forbes until October, becomes the chief officer to develop content for digital and mobile consumers, according to the company.

The change is the latest sign of ongoing turmoil at the Los Angeles Times and its parent company Tronc, led by CEO Michael Ferro.  D’Vorkin was mandated with changing up the hidebound newsroom when he took the job in early November. But since then, successive events have signaled trouble. Publisher Ross Levinsohn remains suspended after it emerged that he was accused of sexual harassment and made inappropriate remarks about women and gay people before he worked at Tronc. He remains under investigation and his future at the publication is uncertain. People who worked with Levinsohn said that he fostered a “frat boy” culture.

Meanwhile, the newsroom also voted to unionize earlier this month, and the union has demanded that Levinsohn not return to his position. Tension between D’Vorkin and the newsroom has spilled out into public view.  Kimi Yoshino, a business editor who recently supervised an investigative piece about Disney and its Anaheim theme park, was suspended and escorted out of the building on Thursday. No explanation for her suspension has been given.

D’Vorkin was replaced just days after the Columbia Journalism Review published a 5,000 word scathing critique of the paper and its new editor, describing him as threatening his own staff. In one passage the piece says:

In early November, D’Vorkin gathered together over 100 journalists in the LA office not to congratulate them, or encourage them, but to warn them: This is his newsroom, and they will get on board. The threat is the final moment of the recording and follows a long-winded talk about himself. “You guys really don’t know much about me,” he explains on the recording, after describing a trip to LA’s art district, where he bought a painting of a typewriter emblazoned with the phrase, “Dream bigger.” “It might be good to know what I believe and what makes me tick.”

Getting to know Lewis D’Vorkin isn’t that easy, and neither is making sense of what exactly he has planned for the LA Times. In a nearly 44-year career, D’Vorkin, 65, has made few friends and many enemies. Even those who speak positively about him acknowledge he can be difficult, threatening, and, in the words of one writer who worked with D’Vorkin for more than four years and actually likes him, “without journalistic ethic.” And the successes that underpin his career, such as bringing an unpaid contributor model and branded content to Forbes, are among the very innovations that have helped bring media to a crisis moment….