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.
 


Twitter CEO trolled for ‘hate mongering’ against India’s Brahmins

Updated 20 November 2018
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Twitter CEO trolled for ‘hate mongering’ against India’s Brahmins

  • Several prominent Indians accused Jack Dorsey of ‘hate mongering’ against Brahmins
  • Twitter India said the poster was handed to Dorsey by a Dalit activist

NEW DELHI: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has kicked up a social media storm in India after a picture of him with a placard saying “smash Brahminical patriarchy,” referring to the highest Hindu caste, went viral in one of the company’s fastest-growing markets.
The picture, posted on Twitter on Sunday by a journalist who was part of group of women journalists, activists, writers whom Dorsey met during a visit to India last week, had him clutching a poster of a woman holding up a banner with the line that has offended many Indians.
Several prominent Indians, including T.V. Mohandas Pai, a former finance chief of software exporter Infosys, accused Dorsey of “hate mongering” against Brahmins.
“Tomorrow if @jack is given a poster with anti-Semitic messages in a meeting, will his team allow him to hold it up?” Pai tweeted. “Why is that any different? Inciting hate against any community is wrong.”
Twitter India said the poster was handed to Dorsey by a Dalit activist — Dalits are at the bottom of the social hierarchy in Hinduism — when it hosted a closed-door discussion with a group of women to know more about their experience using Twitter.
It added the poster was a “tangible reflection of our company’s efforts to see, hear, and understand all sides of important public conversations that happen on our service around the world.”


Late on Monday, Vijaya Gadde, legal, policy and trust and safety lead at Twitter who accompanied Dorsey to India, apologized.
“I’m very sorry for this. It’s not reflective of our views. We took a private photo with a gift just given to us — we should have been more thoughtful,” she said in a tweet. “Twitter strives to be an impartial platform for all. We failed to do that here & we must do better to serve our customers in India.”
Twitter, whose monthly active users globally averaged 326 million in the July-September quarter, does not disclose the number of its users in India but its executives have said that the country was one of its fastest growing.
Its use is only expected to grow in India in the coming months as political parties in the country of 1.3 billion try to expand their reach to voters ahead of a general election due by May.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with 44.4 million followers, is one of its biggest supporters.
“I enjoy being on this medium, where I’ve made great friends and see everyday the creativity of people,” Modi tweeted last week after meeting Dorsey in New Delhi.