Los Angeles Times to lay off 20% of its workforce – BBC News

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SOURCE: Nadine Yousif | BBC News


The Los Angeles Times announced on Tuesday that it will be laying off around 20% of its newsroom due to financial struggles.

The newspaper said it will let go of at least 115 people – the largest layoff in its 142 year history.

The news follows other mass layoffs in the US media industry, including at outlets like Sports Illustrated and independent music publisher Pitchfork.

A reporter described it as a “dark day” for the LA Times.

In a report published on Tuesday, the newspaper’s owner said the layoffs were due to significant and unsustainable financial losses of $30m (£23.6m) to $40m per year.

“Today’s decision is painful for all, but it is imperative that we act urgently and take steps to build a sustainable and thriving paper for the next generation,” said Patrick Soon-Shiong.

A memo sent to newsroom union members informed staff that 94 guild-covered positions were among those being terminated. That is a quarter of all guild members, according to the newspaper.

“It’s a dark day at the Los Angeles Times,” said Matt Pearce, a reporter at the newspaper and president of Media Guild of the West.

“Many departments and clusters across the newsroom will be heavily hit.”

Senior editors were among those affected, including Washington bureau chief Kimbriell Kelly. Several award-winning photographers and the paper’s video unit also lost their jobs.

Patrick Soon-Shiong speaks during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in California in 2015.
Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the LA Times in 2018. Image: Getty Images

Mr Soon-Shiong had warned that layoffs were coming, prompting staff to stage a one-day walkout on Friday in protest.

The walk-out was followed by the resignation of the newspaper’s managing editor Sara Yasin, who stepped-down on Monday citing “professional and personal decisions”.

The paper’s executive editor Kevin Merida also recently left.

In an interview with the LA Times, Mr Soon-Shiong blamed the newspaper’s past leadership for the financial challenges it faces today.

The newspaper has fallen short of its digital subscriber goals and has struggled to generate sustainable advertising revenue, he said.

“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,” he said.

But Mr Soon-Shiong said he still backs the company and believes in its future. He acquired ownership of the LA Times, its sister paper the San Diego Union-Tribune and a handful of other media properties in 2018 for $500m.

“We are not in turmoil. We have a real plan,” he said.

The layoffs come a time of major disruption in the US news industry.

Last week, the union for Sports Illustrated said the publication planned to cut nearly all of it its unionised staff, after the publisher failed to pay its licensing fees to the magazine’s parent company.

And Conde Nast, the company behind storied titles like Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, said last fall that it planned to lay off more than 300 employees.

As part of the restructuring, Conde Nast said last week that its music journalism website Pitchfork will be folded into GQ Magazine and that all of its staff will be let go as a result.

The Washington Post, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, recently offered voluntary buyouts to staff due to losses of around $100m in 2023.


This article was originally published on BBC News – navigate to the original article here.