September 8, 2015 Last Updated 11:12 am

Current Baltimore Sun publisher, Timothy Ryan, named to replace Austin Beutner as publisher of the LA Times, SD Union-Tribune

Tribune Publishing moved quickly today to replace outgoing publisher Austin Beutner at the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune. Beutner was fired today, with the story breaking so early that Tribune Publishing did not have time to make the story their own (Ken Doctor broke the story for Politico).

The new publisher is Timothy E. Ryan, who is currently the publisher and chief executive of the Baltimore Sun Media Group which includes The Baltimore Sun and The Morning Call. Ryan reports Denise Warren, who was recently hired to lead digital media and run Tribune’s east coast properties. Warren came in after her job as executive vice president of digital products at The New York Times was eliminated in a reorganization. The promotion for Ryan would move him out from under Warren, reporting directly now to Chicago.

Ryan is a native of Rochester, N.Y, and a circulation guy, having worked as vice president of circulation at the The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1993 to 2000, before leading circulation efforts at both the Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.

Rick Daniels, who is president & CEO of the Hartford Courant Media Group, is reported to be taking on the additional responsibilities of interim publisher of The Baltimore Sun and The Morning Call while a permanent replacement is found (unless they merge the responsibilities, of course).

As for Beutner, Tribune Publishing certainly lowered the boom, allowing both the Chicago Tribune and Sun reporters to describe his firing as being “for lagging financial performance and a series of expensive, politically connected executive hires.” Beutner’s firing comes after reports that Tribune Publishing had recently rejected an acquisition bid for the Southern California papers from billionaire Eli Broad (co-founder of Kaufman & Broad). Broad and Beutner had previously attempted to buy the paper.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of this,” the LA Times quotes Beutner as telling staff in brief remarks. “I’ll be rooting for you.”

Later Beutner posted on his Facebook page to explain his side of things:

“I am not departing by choice, nor is this some “mutual agreement” on my part and Tribune Publishing. Tribune Publishing has decided to fire me,” Beutner said. “I am sorry you will read this on social media, but I no longer have access to my Times email.”

“The newspaper industry will have to change more in the next five years than it has in the last 20,” said after listing his accomplishments at the Times. “The fat and redundancies bred over a generation by print monopolies with thick sections of classified ads and full-page print ads are gone. Cost-cutting alone is not a path to survival in the face of continued declines in print revenue and fierce competition in the digital world. New sources of revenue will have to be developed and no single one will be the answer. Newspapers must recognize their strength lies in high-quality content developed by world-class journalists with the tools they need to be successful. Successful digital media organizations will have fewer managers and corporate executives, choosing instead to invest in journalists and technologists.”

We’ll let you know what happens when the music stops again. For now, here is the announcement of Ryan’s promotion to warm Southern California (lucky dog):

CHICAGO, Ill. – September 8, 2015 — Tribune Publishing Co. today announced that Timothy E. Ryan, an accomplished media executive who has served as Publisher & CEO of The Baltimore Sun and The Morning Call, has been appointed as Publisher & CEO of the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune. Ryan, who is relocating to Los Angeles, will also serve as CEO of the Company’s California News Group and will report to Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin.

Ryan-290Austin Beutner, who most recently held these positions, is departing the Company effective immediately. Under Beutner’s leadership, the Los Angeles Times re-launched the “California” section and introduced a number of civic-minded initiatives, including “Emerging U.S.,” “Education Matters,” and “The California Conversation” with KCETLink Media Group.

“The California News Group is a critical component of our Company’s portfolio and business strategy, and the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune are world-class institutions with deep connections to the communities they serve,” Griffin said. “Tim Ryan is one of the country’s most-accomplished publishing executives. His operational expertise and proven leadership have produced numerous innovations at The Baltimore Sun and The Morning Call. Tim’s successful track record of strategic acquisitions, revenue diversification and digital transformation are successful models for the industry and for our Company.”

“It is a privilege to lead the iconic Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune,” Ryan said. “Southern California’s influence extends well beyond the region and helps shape the world’s future. I am committed to ensuring that these brands continue their legacy of world-class journalism and grow their already-significant voices to drive deeper engagement with consumers and marketers across all platforms.”

Throughout his 30-year career, Ryan has earned distinction in leadership positions at some of the nation’s most-important media brands, including the Chicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ryan was appointed Publisher & CEO of The Baltimore Sun in 2007 and assumed the additional duties of Publisher & CEO of The Morning Call in 2010. In 2014, Ryan spearheaded the acquisition of newspapers in Maryland, including The Capital in Annapolis. This successful transaction and integration have served as the template for similar Tribune Publishing acquisitions in Illinois and, most recently, in Southern California.

In May 2015, Tribune Publishing acquired The San Diego Union-Tribune as well as nine community weeklies and related digital properties and formed the California News Group. The California News Group comprises the flagship Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune and nine community weeklies and digital properties.

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