Hiller meets with Zell, Michaels in Chicago

Chatter in journo circles swirled during the weekend that Tribune Co. brass could be moving to oust David Hiller as publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times as early as this week.

Talk of Hiller’s exit comes as the L.A. Times’ newsroom is girding for the buyouts and layoffs of 150 editorial staffers, a process that is also expected to begin this week (Daily Variety, July 3). Insiders said Hiller had been called back to Chicago this week to meet with Tribune chief Sam Zell and chief operating officer Randy Michaels. Reps for Tribune and the Los Angeles Times did not respond to requests for comment Sunday.

Hiller has been at the helm of the Times for less than two years, having been named publisher in October 2006 after his predecessor, Jeffrey Johnson, was forced to resign by the previous Tribune regime when Johnson balked at making budget and staff cuts at the newspaper. Hiller served as publisher of Tribune’s Chicago Tribune for two years prior to joining the Times. Before that, he held a range of exec posts at the Chi-based newspaper and TV station owner.

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