LA Times publisher put on unpaid leave over sexual misconduct accusations

Jan 20, 2018, 05:26
LA Times publisher put on unpaid leave over sexual misconduct accusations

Tronc and its board of directors must be held accountable for their failure to properly vet Levinsohn for one of the most important positions at the company and in American journalism. On Friday, a tally by the National Labor Relations Board revealed that newsroom employees had voted to form a union, a historic first for the paper, which had always been staunchly anti-union.

The news followed word that Times journalists had voted to join a union - a first in the paper's 136-year history.

Los Angeles Times publisher Ross Levinsohn has "voluntarily" agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence from the newspaper, a day after NPR reported that he was named in two sexual harassment lawsuits that pertain to his past conduct.

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"There was a time, way back when, when a guild couldn't make headway in the newsroom, because the people were treated very well", Paul Pringle, an investigative reporter who helped spearhead the drive, said in an interview before the vote.

Prior to Dearborn's announcement, the Times newsroom had been speaking up loudly against Levinsohn. The report, by media correspondent David Folkenflik, found that Levinsohn was a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits and that he allegedly engaged in "frat-boy" behavior in work settings before joining The Times on August 21.

Times president Mickie Rosen "will lead the Los Angeles Times" in Levinsohn's absence, Dearborn said. "We are also aware of additional, credible reports that Levinsohn engaged in other acts of sexual misconduct in the workplace, and used a vulgar, homophobic epithet", the statement reads.

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Tensions were heightened this week after NPR published an investigation detailing allegations and settlements over inappropriate conduct by Times publisher Ross Levinsohn, who was appointed after last summer's ouster of Davan Maharaj. Since then, Levinsohn has moved swiftly to establish his own team, hiring former Forbes Editor Lewis D'Vorkin as executive editor.

Most major news organizations in the United States, including The Associated Press, are unionized and digital media such as the Huffington Post also have seen successful organizing efforts. The executive has declined to comment on the matter but was quoted in the NPR story saying the allegations against him are "lies". In that complaint, a producer alleged that sexual harassment was common at the company under Levinsohn and other top leaders.

Levinsohn did not respond to detailed questions from NPR.

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Tronc, the Times' parent company, told the outlet that they were investigating him but have yet to suspend the publisher. 'At Tronc, we expect all employees to act in a way that supports a culture of diversity and inclusion. "We will take appropriate action to address any behavior that falls short of these expectations".

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