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LA Times slashes a fifth of its newsroom jobs

The Los Angeles Times announced Tuesday it is laying off more than a fifth of its journalists.

The Los Angeles Times is slashing a fifth of its newsroom jobs, in the latest blow to an industry that has struggled to make the economics of the online world work
The Los Angeles Times is slashing a fifth of its newsroom jobs, in the latest blow to an industry that has struggled to make the economics of the online world work - Copyright AFP ANGELA WEISS
The Los Angeles Times is slashing a fifth of its newsroom jobs, in the latest blow to an industry that has struggled to make the economics of the online world work - Copyright AFP ANGELA WEISS
Huw GRIFFITH

The Los Angeles Times announced Tuesday it is laying off more than a fifth of its journalists, as yet another once-storied US paper fell victim to the disruptions of the internet age.

Bleeding cash, the paper said it will eliminate at least 115 newsroom positions.

“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,” owner Patrick Soon-Shiong said, according to the paper.

The Times, like many legacy media, has struggled to adapt to the economics of the online world, particularly the loss of advertising revenue and dwindling subscriber numbers.

Unionized journalists at the Times walked off the job last week when reports first emerged that managers were considering drastic cuts.

Soon-Shiong said the walk-out “did not help” and he expressed disappointment that the newsroom guild had not partnered with managers to find ways to save jobs.

Nevertheless, Tuesday’s cuts seemed to come suddenly.

“The LA Times laid us off in an HR zoom webinar with chat disabled, no q&a, no chance to ask questions,” breaking news editor Jared Servantez wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“As a colleague described it, ‘that was like a drive-by,'” he added.

“The journalism grim reaper has arrived at my door and what once was a dream is now a nightmare,” wrote reporter Queenie Wong.

Staff across the publication were understood to be affected, including some working at the White House in this presidential election year.

The layoffs come on top of 70 positions that were erased last year.

They also came days after the abrupt departure of executive editor Kevin Merida, a respected industry figure who joined the paper in 2021 with a brief to offer stability in a time of turmoil.

Soon-Shiong, who bought the outlet six years ago, is understood to be subsidizing it to the tune of between $30 and $40 million a year.

The Times was once a giant on the US media stage, with correspondents all over the country and around the world.

But years of retrenchments have seen it shrink its once-mighty reach.

Critics say while it still paints itself as a national paper with a West Coast perspective, it has a much more parochial feel nowadays.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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