Los Angeles Times to Slash Newsroom by Over 20%

The Los Angeles Times said on Tuesday it would lay off about 115 journalists, slashing its newsroom by more than 20 percent after a tumultuous few weeks that saw top editors depart and workers strike.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, the billionaire owner of The Los Angeles Times, said in an interview with his paper that it was losing $30 million to $40 million a year and needed to make more progress in building a larger audience.

“It is indeed difficult to reflect upon the recent tumultuous years, during which our business faced significant challenges, including losses that surpassed $100 million in operational and capital expenses,” Dr. Soon-Shiong said, noting that the paper had not done layoffs in the first years of the pandemic.

Dr. Soon-Shiong added that since he had bought The Times in 2018, “we have invested almost a billion dollars, underscoring our dedication to preserving its legacy and securing its future,” though he did not specify how he arrived at that figure.

A spokeswoman for The Times had no immediate comment.

The announcement ends uncertainty about the extent of the cuts, after negotiations were held between the union and Times management. On Friday, hundreds of journalists walked off the job for the day in the first newsroom-organized work stoppage in The Times’s 142-year history, protesting the planned layoffs.

This month, the executive editor, Kevin Merida, announced suddenly that he would step down. Dr. Soon-Shiong wrote in a note to staff that he and Mr. Merida had “mutually agreed” that Mr. Merida should leave. Two other top editors, Shani Hilton and Sara Yasin, announced their departures in recent days.

News of the layoffs — which will shrink the newsroom to the size it was when Dr. Soon-Shiong bought it — was delivered on Tuesday in a brief email to affected employees. The human resources department cited “a difficult economic operating environment” notifying them that their last day would be near the end of March, according to a copy of the email viewed by The New York Times.

“We are saddened to have to take this step and thank you for your work for the Los Angeles Times,” the email said.

The cuts affected many departments at The Los Angeles Times, including its business desk, its Washington bureau and its “Fast Break” desk, which covers breaking news.

Matt Pearce, president of Media Guild of the West, which represents unionized workers at The Times, said in a post on X that 94 of those being laid off were union members.

“This total, while devastating, is nonetheless far lower than the total number of Guild layoffs initially expected last week,” he wrote.

In an email to colleagues on Tuesday, Sam Dean, a business reporter who is a member of union leadership, said: “Keep in mind that these proposed layoffs are not final, they are proposed and have to be bargained with the Guild, and could be changed as buyouts, negotiations, etc.”

“Do not sign anything,” he added.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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