Medical

New Los Angeles Times owner vows boost to its journalism

New Los Angeles Times owner vows boost to its journalism

The buyer is billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, a health care mogul and former surgeon.

Soon-Shiong, 65, made his $8.6 billion fortune with the sale of two drug companies and owns part of the Los Angeles Lakers. A new owner could appease the Times' editorial workers, who voted last month to unionize and pressured Tronc into replacing editor-in-chief Lewis D'Vorkin.

The sale reflects a trend of billionaires buying up newspapers, most notably when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, in a move that has reinvigorated that newspaper and raised its profile.

"Reporters at the Times said Tronc and Soon-Shiong are ", in a deal that came together in only five days.

The transaction could solve two problems for Tronc, which also owns the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News.

Since then, the paper has struggled: it's been through 3 editors in the past 6 months, its publisher has been accused of sexual harassment, and its newsroom staff has dipped from around 1.2k to 400.




Tronc stock jumped 19 percent to close at $21.55 a share Wednesday on the Nasdaq market.

Clashes between the Times and its Chicago-based owner erupted not long after it acquired the West Coast paper in 2000. You take it over knowing it isn't almost as profitable as it might have been 20 or 50 years ago.

Born in South Africa to Chinese parents, Soon-Shiong came to Los Angeles in the 1970s, going to work as a resident at the UCLA Medical School.

"I am concerned there are other agendas, independent of the newspaper's needs or the fiduciary obligations to the viability of the organization", he said. D'Vorkin had pushed the theory that media has to embrace new ideas to survive in a digital world.

Veteran media business analyst Ken Doctor said a return to local ownership will restore pride at the Times.


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