Biotech billionaire takes over at Los Angeles Times, new editor named

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Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. (AP)
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Norman Pearlstine. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2018
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Biotech billionaire takes over at Los Angeles Times, new editor named

  • Soon-Shiong, a surgeon whose biotech investments have boosted his net worth to some $7.5 billion
  • The new owner’s first move was to name as executive editor Pearlstine, 75, who has worked at The Wall Street Journal, Time Inc. magazines and Bloomberg News in a 50-year career

LOS ANGELES: Biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong took over Monday as the new owner of the Los Angeles Times and immediately named respected journalist Norman Pearlstine as top editor.
The changeover aims to reinvigorate what had been one of the leading US dailies until it fell on hard economic times in the digital era and saw a rise in newsroom unrest.
“From today, our important work protecting and building on a rich history of independent journalism begins — with a sense of urgency and purpose,” said a note to readers by Soon-Shiong, who agreed to pay $500 million and assume $90 million in pension liabilities to acquire the daily from the newspaper group Tronc.
The new owner’s first move was to name as executive editor Pearlstine, 75, who has worked at The Wall Street Journal, Time Inc. magazines and Bloomberg News in a 50-year career.
“Not only does he have amazing experience with the full knowledge of how a newsroom runs — but he’s amazingly modern and forward-looking,” Soon-Shiong told the newspaper.
“There’s no agenda, other than to make this the best journalistic institution.”
Soon-Shiong, a surgeon whose biotech investments have boosted his net worth to some $7.5 billion, reached the deal earlier this year to take over the Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune, operating under the California News Group.
He becomes the latest billionaire aiming to revive the fortunes of ailing US metropolitan newspapers, following Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’s takeover of The Washington Post and investor John Henry’s deal for The Boston Globe.
He reached the deal after months of newsroom unrest at the storied Los Angeles daily that saw three editors in the past six months and a vote to unionize the journalists.
The LA Times, like many newspapers, has been downsizing its staff as readers turn away from print to online news platforms.
The Los Angeles daily was family-owned for more than a century before being sold to the Chicago-based Tribune Co. in 2000.
Tribune Co., which split off its broadcast division and renamed its publishing arm Tronc (for Tribune Online Content), will continue to own the Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Baltimore Sun and New York Daily News.
Soon-Shiong, born in South Africa to Chinese parents, has been an investor in Tronc and also owns a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team.
He has been a faculty member at the UCLA medical school and has invested in and donated to medical research.
 


WhatsApp to limit message forwarding

This photo illustration shows an Indian newspaper vendor reading a newspaper with a full back page advertisement from WhatsApp intended to counter fake information, in New Delhi on July 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 20 July 2018
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WhatsApp to limit message forwarding

  • Indians forward more messages, photos and videos than any other country in the world

NEW DELHI: WhatsApp announced curbs on its service in India on Friday in an effort to stop a spate of horrific lynchings and to assuage government threats of legal action in its biggest market.
More than 20 people have been killed by mobs in the past two months across the country after being accused of child kidnapping and other crimes in viral messages circulated on WhatsApp.
The Facebook-owned firm said on Friday that in India it will test limiting the ability of users to forward messages, and will also experiment with a lower limit of five chats at once.
It addition, it said it will “remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” a statement said.
“We believe that these changes — which we’ll continue to evaluate — will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” it added.
Under pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, the firm had already announced new features to help users identify messages that have been forwarded.
WhatsApp had also bought full-page adverts in Indian newspapers with tips on how to spot misinformation.
But in a strongly worded statement released late Thursday, India’s information technology ministry said the action taken was not enough.
“Rampant circulation of irresponsible messages in large volumes on their platform have not been addressed adequately by WhatsApp,” the ministry said.
“When rumors and fake news get propagated by mischief-mongers, the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability,” it said.
“If (WhatsApp) remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action.”