Beutner becomes the fourteenth publisher of the Times and takes the reins at a time of transition for the paper. The Times’ former corporate parent, Tribune Company, spun off its publishing assets in Aug. into an independent publicly traded company called Tribune Publishing. Prior to its separation, the paper and sister publications such as the Chicago Tribune had been plagued by layoffs, ownership questions and the bankruptcy of its parent company.
Like most daily papers, the Los Angeles Times has struggled with falling ad revenues and the migration of readers to digital competitors.
Beutner succeeds Eddy W. Hartenstein, who recently assumed the role of non-executive chairman of the Tribune Publishing Board. In his new position, Beutner will report to Tribune Publishing Company CEO Jack Griffin.
“Austin’s distinguished career in business, philanthropy and public service makes him the perfect choice to lead the iconic Los Angeles Times,” said Griffin in a statement. “His deep and intimate knowledge of Los Angeles and California are significant and very meaningful as he takes the reins of one of America’s most important media brands.”
Beutner co-founded Evercore Partners and served as president and co-CEO of the investment bank. He also served as a partner at the private equity firm, Blackstone.
In 2010, Beutner served for a year as first deputy mayor and jobs czar for Los Angeles. He weighed running for mayor himself, but ultimately dropped out of the race in 2012, citing family reasons.
In 2012, he created Vision To Learn, a nonprofit that provides free eyeglasses to children in low-income communities in California. He serves on the boards of a number of organizations including CalArts, The Broad Stage, the Mammoth Mountain Community Foundation and the Pacific Council on International Relations.
“As an avid reader of the Los Angeles Times, I recognize the role it plays as a civic conscience for our city, region and state,” said Beutner in a statement. “We need a strong and independent press for our community to thrive.”