Indian American Davan Maharaj, the editor in chief and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, was fired Monday at breakfast along with some of his other colleagues.
According to a CNN report, after becoming editor in chief in 2011 and publisher in 2016, Maharaj became a polarizing presence at the newspaper, which was supported by some staffers but maligned by many detractors.
In a Los Angeles magazine article last year stated that with Maharaj in charge, the newsroom “has been overtaken by fear” and according to the authorative local blog LAObserved, there “has been upset in the newsroom over Maharaj’s handling of the recent investigative series on former USC medical school dean Dr. Carmen Puliafito. Some staffers had sent a letter to Tronc headquarters complaining about Maharaj’s leadership.”
Maharaj did not comment about his termination however in an interview with CNN earlier this year Maharaj pointed to the recent hiring of investigative journalists and the new digital extensions as evidence of the LA Times’ ambitions.
“We have to keep the print product vibrant, because it also provides most of the revenue right now,” he told CNN.
Jim Kirk, the former top editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, will be replacing Maharaj as an interim executive editor while the company will start looking for another one.
Ross Levinsohn, the former Yahoo and Fox Interactive Media executive will take over the position of publisher.
Levinsohn told CNNMoney that he will try to position the Los Angeles Times for “sustainable, long-term growth.”
“We’re in a moment where the need for the L.A. Times — for journalism, for facts and for reporting — has never been greater, and I see so much potential to grow our impact,” Levinsohn said adding that he wants to invest more into “groundbreaking journalism” about entertainment, art, tech, climate change and other subject matter.
Justin Dearborn, the CEO of Tronc, holding company of the LA Times, told Poynter that the firings were necessary to give Levinsohn an opportunity to bring in leaders that support his vision for the Los Angeles Times.
“We don’t do it lightly, but he’s got to build a team with a digital-first mindset to maintain the integrity of the great journalism that we do here,” Dearborn said.
“My focus is pretty simple. This in my mind, is the most important time to be in the news business. The Los Angeles Times has incredible journalists, and there’s never been a more important time to produce incredible journalism and get it out on all these platforms,” Levinsohn told Poynter.