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L.A. Times Staff Purge Continues

The L.A. Times is still bleeding employees this week with the announcement of a third high-placed staffer leaving the paper.

On Thursday, Renata Simril, the paper’s senior vice president and chief of staff, announced she is leaving the paper after publisher Austin Beutner’s abrupt firing on Tuesday. Simril is the third high profile staffer to leave the paper since Beutner’s firing this week.

“It is unfortunate that I will not be able to continue in our journey due to Austin’s untimely departure,” Simril said in a statement. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the efforts we have undertaken over the last year and sharing in the many contributions we have given to this paper and equally important to this great city.”

The other two who left this week were Times top spokesperson Johanna Maska, who announced her resignation Thursday morning, and White House correspondent Kathleen Hennessey, who announced a few hours later that she was returning to The Associated Press. Maska was a one-time aide to President Barack Obama.

The bloodletting of top staffers started on Tuesday with the firing of publisher Austin Beutner.

On Tuesday, the Times announced the firing of Beutner after only a year as the paper’s publisher. Beutner was given no grace time and exited immediately upon the announcement. No reason was given for his ouster at the time.

After his tenure was cut short, Beutner, 55, went to pains to note his firing was a hostile move as far as he was concerned.

“I am not departing by choice, nor is this some ‘mutual agreement’ on my part and Tribune Publishing. Tribune Publishing has decided to fire me. I am sorry you will read this on social media, but I no longer have access to my Times email,” Beutner said.

Two others hired by Beutner may also be on the verge of leaving the paper. Senior vice president and deputy publisher Nicco Mele and VP of projects Suzy Jack may also find their days numbered.

By some accounts, as many as 50 more employees will be bought out or laid off in the coming weeks.

Layoffs have surrounded other Times properties, as well. Earlier this year, after the San Diego Union-Tribune was bought out by the owner of the L.A. Times, layoffs amounting to over 170 employees were announced.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com

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