Editors dealt secretly with Broad

The Times is all over the running story of its future. Along with a piece breaking the news that Tribune is offering KTLA to potential buyers, James Rainey reports that two months before former Times editor John Carroll left last year, he visited Brentwood to confide his complaints about Tribune to Eli Broad and ask if the billionaire might consider buying the paper. (Telling aside: Despite being top guy at the Times for five years, Carroll needed an out-of-town introduction from Time Inc. editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine to see Broad.) The revelation that Carroll went behind the backs of his bosses, bad-mouthing them to influential L.A. figures, is high in a piece about the culture clash and bad blood between Chicago and Los Angeles over control of the Times. (See my musings on the subject from Wednesday.)

Programming note: I gave my take on the Times-Tribune culture clash for this morning's Day to Day on NPR.

Rainey details how Carrol bristled at Tribune-mandated cuts that did not seem part of any strategic plan for the future, and how Chicago thought Carroll was an obstacle to melding the Tribune and Times cultures. As I reported at the time, Dean Baquet almost resigned with Carroll, but decided to accept Tribune's offer to become #1, figuring that he could dampen Chicago's meddling. Baquet became disenchanted, however, and eagerly received reports this summer from private meetings between managing editor Leo Wolinsky and Broad, David Geffen and Ron Burkle. Carroll also kept up contacts with Broad, encouraging him to make a play for the Times, Rainey reports. The Times even ran a Steve Lopez column inviting the billionaires to bid.

Another interesting tidbit: the story says that plans for synergy between the Times's older audience and KTLA's younger demo failed, in part because the Times used another TV station to promote the hugely popular Festival of Books and shared big stories with PBS before it would share with with its nominal sister station. Tribune's motive for selling KTLA, WGN in Chicago and WPIX in New York may be driven more by the Democratic takeover of Congress, which probably dooms any relaxation of the crossover rules that forbid the company from owning newspapers and TV stations in the same media market.

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