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James O'Shea

James O'Shea is cofounder and editor of the Chicago News Cooperative. His book, The Deal From Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers, will be published shortly by PublicAffairs.

From 2006 to 2008, he was the editor and executive vice president of the Los Angeles Times. Previously, he had served as managing editor of the Chicago Tribune since February 2001.  From 1995 to early 2001, he was deputy managing editor for news and supervised the Tribune news divisions.  He also served as the newspaper’s associate managing editor for foreign and national news.

O'Shea joined the Chicago Tribune in 1979 from the Des Moines Register, where he had been a reporter, editor and Washington, D.C., correspondent.  Once in Chicago, he worked on various investigative projects for the Tribune’s Financial News Desk. He joined the Tribune’s Washington bureau in 1982, where he covered both national budget policy and national security. Two years later, he was named national security correspondent, covering the Pentagon. In 1988, he became the newspaper’s senior economics correspondent.

O’Shea helped the Chicago Tribune develop RedEye, originally a weekday, quick-read newspaper distributed free in the Chicago area and now also available online. RedEye delivers a mix of news, sports, entertainment and gossip to the elusive, highly desirable 18-to-34-year-old demographic, and has averaged 35% per year revenue growth since its debut in 2002.

An award-winning journalist, he is a two-time winner of both the Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award for Washington Correspondence, in 1985 and 1989, and the Peter Lisagor Award, which is given by the Chicago chapter of Sigma Delta Chi. O’Shea’s other numerous awards include the Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award, the National Education Writers Award for his coverage of the collapse of Chicago’s school finance system, and the Chicago Tribune’s William Jones Award in 1989 for his in-depth coverage of the savings and loan crisis.  He also was awarded an honorable mention in the Raymond Clapper Awards given by the White House Correspondent's Association.

O’Shea began his journalism career in 1968 as a U.S. Army correspondent, where he covered U.S. troops stationed in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

He is the author of two previous books, “The Daisy Chain,” a book about the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, and “Dangerous Company,” an examination of the role that management consultants play in corporate decision making, a book that he co-authored with Chicago Tribune staffer Charles Madigan.

O’Shea holds an undergraduate degree in English and philosophy and a master’s degree in journalism, both from the University of Missouri. 

He was born in East St. Louis, Illinois, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri.



A veteran reporter and editor, starting over and aiming to provide high-value local news
SHOWCASE | June 16, 2011
James O’Shea has been chief editor of the L.A. Times and an M.E. at the Chicago Tribune. Now he’s editor of the Chicago News Cooperative, a new venture trying to provide deeper, better local coverage. Will it work? O’Shea’s answer: ‘It’s too soon to say. But we would rather be out there trying to figure out how we can finance quality journalism than waiting for doomsday to arrive.’

Of course we'll have newspapers. But will there be any news in them?
COMMENTARY | December 01, 2008
James O’Shea, ex-editor of the LA Times, sees pandering to readers as a current danger and says newspapers aren’t going to solve their problems by lay-offs or closing bureaus. Journalists need to persuade people that we “once again are a public trust,” he writes.

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