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President and COO of the Los Angeles Times Media Group announces her departure

The Los Angeles Times

Mae Ryan/KPCC

The Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A.

The president and chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Times Media Group said she is leaving the iconic paper at the end of the month.

Kathy Thomson said in a staff memo that it is with “mixed feelings” she is  “moving on to another challenging opportunity.” She did not mention what that opportunity will be.

Thomson has been president and COO of the Los Angeles Times Media Group since May 2011. She was responsible for overseeing the Times’ products. She was also the COO of Tribune Publishing and led the expansion into digital, including increasing the use of video. Her last day will be Nov. 29.

“I am proud to have helped lead the company out of bankruptcy and into a new era,” Thomson wrote in the memo. “ There is much promise on the road ahead. Our journalism is read more now than at any time in our 131 year history.”

Eddy Hartenstein, CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, thanked Thomson for her “countless contributions” to the Times and the Chicago-based Tribune Co., the newspaper’s parent company.

“She has led with grace and determination through the last several years and will be greatly missed,” Hartenstein wrote in a staff memo.

The Times, like other newspapers, has undergone a lot of transition in recent years. With significant declines in print ad revenues, newspaper industry executives are figuring out new ways to increase profitability.

Tribune, the Times’ parent company, reported third quarter sales in its publishing division declined 4 percent to $446 million, due to a drop in print newspaper ads. Tribune plans to spin off its newspapers into their own separate company.

KPCC asked Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan why Thomson decided to leave the company and requested information on the paper’s plans for filling the president and COO role. Sullivan said the paper didn’t have further comment.

Kathy Thomson shared news of her departure in a memo:

Colleagues –

From the groundbreaking journalism and ongoing community events to the task of creating the largest fully responsively designed news site ever built, the work being undertaken in every corner of the LA Times is amazing. Millions of people count on that work every day. It matters.

I am honored to be associated with such an outstanding team of people who are dedicated and committed to excellence. I am inspired by you. So it is with mixed feelings that I am writing to tell you I am leaving The Times and moving on to another challenging opportunity. My last day will be November 29th.

I am proud to have helped lead the company out of bankruptcy and into a new era. There is much promise on the road ahead. Our journalism is read more now than at any time in our 131 year history. Our readers and advertisers rely on us to inform, delight, engage and entertain throughout each day. As The Times continues to navigate its migration into a digital world, remember the importance and value of the people on the team and the immense power of the brand. While change is inevitable, the LA Times is here to stay.

Thank you for all that you do and for letting me be a part of a truly incredible company. 

Best wishes,

Kathy

Thomson's exit comes just weeks after another prominent newspaper executive's departure. Joanne Bradford left her position as president of the San Francisco Chronicle to become head of partnerships for Pinterest.

"It seems like anyone who is in a top position at a company like the Times has got to feel like they are a little bit in limbo at this point," said media analyst Ken Doctor.

Doctor said the Times has gone through a lot of business trauma during the Sam Zell era, then dealt with the possibility of being sold and now, is preparing for Tribune to spin off its newspapers into a separate company. 

"I think it's a time when executive talent wonders about its own future. People find opportunities and they are more likely to take them," Doctor said.

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