Newly appointed Los Angeles Times editor in chief Jim Kirk addressed the paper’s newsroom Monday afternoon after flying in from Chicago, calling for a fresh start following a series of shakeups and turmoil.
“I want to start fresh and bring this newsroom together,” Kirk said to nearly 200 staffers present at the meeting, according to the LA Times. “There has been too much not-togetherness in the past few months, and if we want to be successful, that has to change.”
The Times described the meeting as having a “starkly different” tone than the one set by Kirk’s predecessor, Lewis D’Vorkin, who held the job for three months.
D’Vorkin grew angry with reporters after he discovered that someone leaked a recording from a previous meeting to the New York Times. He also began to assemble a separate team of digital journalists, but did not explain his plans, raising suspicion in the newsroom.
Tension with D’Vorkin and his employees spilled into public view last week when business editor Kimi Yoshino was escorted from the building without explanation. Yoshino oversaw a recent investigative piece about Disney and its Anaheim theme park that resulted in a brief blackout of the Times from reviewing Disney’s movies.
“There will be tough choices to make, but I promise that we will be transparent when we have to make those choices,” Kirk said at the meeting, where he took questions for about 50 minutes.
One columnist asked the new boss if he had ever been accused of sexual assault, to which he replied “No.” The room applauded.
The Times’ publisher, Ross Levinsohn, is currently under investigation for sexual harassment after an NPR report of his purporting “frat boy” culture and other misbehavior. He was put on unpaid leave earlier this month and is taking a leave of absence from Tribune Media’s board.
Kirk is the third editor in chief the Times has had in six months.
Kirk said he could not promise there wouldn’t be additional layoffs, but said none are currently planned. He added that he wants to expand the newsroom and its diversity.
One employee who was at the meeting with Kirk Monday told TheWrap that it was reassuring.
On top of newsroom leadership changes, the LA Times recently voted to unionize — a move both Kirk and D’Vorkin were against. But during the meeting Monday afternoon, Kirk said he’s ready to move forward. “There is not going to be a fight, but there will be a negotiation,” he said. “The union is here. The goal is to work together to get a good contract.”