(ConservativeInsider.org) – The Los Angeles Times delivered a significant announcement on Tuesday, January 23rd, shocking the journalism world with its decision to lay off 115 staffers. This action marks the largest staff cut in the paper’s 142-year history and comes as owner Patrick Soon-Shiong endeavors to address significant financial losses totaling $30-$40 million annually.
This workforce reduction affects both unionized and non-union members, with 94 union staffers losing their jobs. While still devastating, this figure is lower than the initial projections, providing relief amidst the grim news. Employees with less seniority will be the first to feel the impact following the union’s contract. The union resisted management’s proposal to offer buyouts in exchange for relaxing the seniority rule, highlighting the tense atmosphere within the organization.
The effects of the layoffs are evident as key figures like Kimbriell Kelly and Nick Baumann, who served as bureau chief and deputy, respectively, have both announced their departures on social media. The cuts extend beyond the editorial department, affecting several business staffers, including Lindsay Blakely and Jeff Bercovici.
In an interview, Soon-Shiong acknowledged the pain caused by these layoffs but insisted on their necessity for the paper’s long-term survival. He downplayed recent turmoil, including the abrupt departure of Kevin Merida as executive editor just weeks ago, emphasizing his commitment to building a sustainable future for the paper.
However, the stark reality cannot be ignored. These layoffs represent a 20% reduction in the newsroom workforce, following 74 cuts earlier this year. This announcement comes on the same day the L.A. Times received its first-ever Academy Award nomination, highlighting the contrast between the paper’s creative prowess and financial struggles.
The L.A. Times Guild, representing unionized employees, staged a one-day walkout last Friday to protest the planned layoffs. The process of letting go of staff is expected to unfold over the next 30 days, adding uncertainty and anxiety to an already turbulent period.
A glimmer of hope emerged from a group of 10 members of Congress who wrote a letter to Soon-Shiong and the guild, urging them to find ways to avoid “drastic” cuts. In response, Soon-Shiong called for legislative support to help newspapers like the L.A. Times overcome their financial challenges.
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