LA Times Publisher Placed on Unpaid Leave Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation

On the same day the Los Angeles Times newsroom voted overwhelmingly to unionize, Tronc, the parent company of the newspaper, is investigating allegations of inappropriate behavior by Ross Levinsohn, the newspaper's CEO and publisher.

Ross Levinsohn "voluntarily agreed" to the unpaid leave, according to an memo that was sent to Times employees by Tribune Publishing CEO Justin Dearborn and obtained by Variety.

The Los Angeles Times is the latest in a wave of media outlets to seek union representation in recent years. Several weeks later, audio from another all-hands meeting, in which LAT editor-in-chief Lewis D'Vorkin chewed out staff over the leak, was itself leaked.

It must be noted, however, almost every employee interviewed refused to have their names published and Levinsohn has referred to the allegations as "lies". "Anyone familiar with the history The Times - and of Los Angeles itself - knows the significance of what we just accomplished".

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Times employees have been very vocal on Twitter in calling for Tronc to take action against Levinsohn.

On Thursday, the guild organizing committee demanded that Levinsohn be fired, saying he was "not fit to lead our newspaper".

Tronc began the investigation after a National Public Radio story Thursday detailed two sexual harassment lawsuits that named Levinsohn while he worked at Alta Vista and News Corp, as well as complaints from employees who said he fostered a fraternity-like atmosphere. The NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America will represent the workers at the paper. Paid models mingled with participants as they downed drinks while the yacht made small loops in the Mediterranean Sea, according to three former Yahoo executives.

Folkenflik said he conducted 26 interviews and reviewed court documents, among other things. "The portrait that repeatedly emerges is one of a frat-boy executive, catapulting ever higher, even as he creates corporate climates that alienated some of the people who worked for and with him".

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Tronc learned of the allegations this week and has launched an investigation into Levinsohn's behavior, company spokeswoman Lauren Pulte told BuzzFeed News in a statement.

'This week, we became aware of allegations that Ross Levinsohn acted inappropriately.

"We respect the outcome of the election and look forward to productive conversations with union leadership as we move forward", Tronc said in a statement. "Once that review is complete, we will take swift and appropriate action to address any behavior that falls short of our expectations". One attendee from another company recalled that she got onboard, having been invited by Levinsohn to talk business. That turnover has contributed to rising discontent in the newsroom, which also saw jobs slashed and benefits cut as the Times struggled with declining advertising revenues and circulation in the face of online competition.

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  • Kelly Blake