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Digital media veteran Ross Levinsohn takes over the LA Times as it fires top editors

He brought Myspace to News Corp, and later ran Yahoo. Now he’s running one of America’s biggest newspapers.

Ross Levinsohn, Los Angeles Times CEO and publisher Ben Gabbe / Getty
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Ross Levinsohn has worked at all kinds of media companies, but he’s never managed a newspaper before. Now he’ll run a big one: He’s the new publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times.

As the Times reports, Levinsohn’s appointment comes as part of a restructuring, one of many the paper has undergone: The Times, owned by the Tronc conglomerate (formerly known as Tribune), fired editor and publisher Davan Maharaj, as well as top editors including managing editor Marc Duvoisin, digital editor Megan Garvey and Matt Doig, who ran the paper’s investigative unit.

“This is one of the great and historic brands in the world,” said Levinsohn. He wouldn’t detail his plans, but said that “there is no silver bullet here.” He did suggest that he would like to expand the LA Times subscription offerings. “What’s changed is consumers seem to be more accepting that they will pay for quality journalism.”

Levinsohn says he was not brought in to make more cuts, “but there’s plenty of money being spent to create great stuff” at the newspaper.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about Levinsohn: He’s spent a lot of time in big media companies (News Corp) and big internet companies (Yahoo). And while he has operational experience (he ran Yahoo for a stretch, prior to being displaced by Marissa Mayer), he’s best known as a dealmaker.

Levinsohn made his digital reputation by helping News Corp acquire Myspace way back in 2005, a move that kicked off a wave of digital M&A. And he tried to buy Hulu multiple times, while working for multiple organizations.

In 2013, he went to work for Guggenheim Partners, which owned several media trade publications, and planned on writing big checks to bulk that group up. After a strategy change, he left in 2014.

I have no idea what that means for the Times, but Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn says he didn’t hire Levinsohn to fire more people. “Ross isn’t coming in to manage further down-sizing,” Dearborn told the LA Times. “We have more to offer.”

You can read the Tronc version of the story here.

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