The Los Angeles Times is cutting its newsroom staff, becoming the latest news organization to decline amid economic pressures from advertising and declining print media readership.
The Times is cutting 74 newsroom jobs, about 13% of the total.
Full-time and temporary workers are laid off, including a handful of managers. Reporting positions are expected to be spared but support staff will be cut, including editors at the news and editorial offices and the audience engagement team. Some audio producers are also trimmed.
Times Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida announced the layoffs in a note to the newsroom on Wednesday, saying the decision was “made more urgent by the economic climate and the unique challenges facing our industry.”
“Decisions that result in talented employees losing their jobs are excruciating,” Merida wrote. “We will say goodbye to some great colleagues.”
The restructuring represents the first significant breather since Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife Michele acquired the newspaper five years ago from Tribune Publishing, a company that no longer exists. Since then, the Times newsroom has been largely shielded from mass layoffs that have hampered many other news outlets.
Under Soon-Shiong, the newsroom hired more than 150 journalists and saw strong revenue growth through early 2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic dashed the paper’s path to profitability as closures due to the pandemic wiped out the newspaper’s advertising.
Since then, the Times has struggled to recover financially amid an industry-wide slowdown in ad sales and subscriptions.
“The restructuring comes as a result of the same ongoing economic headwinds that news media across the country are facing,” Merida wrote. “Together we have done a lot of work as a company to meet the budget and revenue challenges head-on. But that work needs to be accelerated and we need a more radical change in the newsroom so we can become a self-sustaining company. Our goal is to become a modern media company – more flexible, more experimental, more daring in our ambition and creativity than today.”
The move comes just weeks after the Times awarded two Pulitzer Prizes. Staffers were honored for their coverage of the Los Angeles City Hall scandal last fall, after a leaked audio recording revealed occasional racist quips by three then-council members. The Times also won for feature photography.
“The Los Angeles Times is one of the greatest journalism institutions in the country and, quite frankly, the world,” Merida wrote. “It’s unsurpassed west of the Mississippi River. It’s full of phenomenal journalists—the amazingly successful, the promising, and the up-and-coming. And I believe we are on the verge of creating something extraordinary – transforming a 141-year-old newspaper into a truly next-generation digital powerhouse, serving the people of this city and the world in unprecedented ways.”
Industry-wide, news publishers have suffered as social media giants, including Facebook and Twitter, scaled back promotions for news articles.
In the past year, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Vice Media and Insider have fired journalists. Buzzfeed News and MTV News have been shut down. Tech giants like Amazon and Google and entertainment leaders like Walt Disney Co., Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery have shed thousands of jobs over the past year.