UPDATE: The layoffs of more than 20% of the Los Angeles Times newsroom elicited sharp criticism from the guild, saying that it was handled in a “brutal and inhumane way.”
“The Times chose long planned mass layoffs via a webinar in which staff members weren’t allowed so much as a question,” the guild said in a statement.
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The guild claimed that management wanted them to agree “extreme layoff terms that it was unwilling to share on the record — essentially asking journalists to sign a deal without telling them what was in that deal.” The union also contended that the Times tried to gut the seniority process and “pit young journalists of color against more senior employees.”
“The staffing cut is the fruit of years of middling strategy, the absence of a publisher and no clear direction,” the guild said. The union credited the walkout on Friday with helping to save “scores of newsroom jobs,” but the newsroom now looks to be less than 400 people.
— L.A. Times Guild 🦅 (@latguild) January 23, 2024
“They haven’t been filling jobs for two years now and that reduced number was cut even more today,” she wrote. “There are five reporters left covering DC.”
PREVIOUSLY: The Los Angeles Times has started to give layoff notices to employees today, as the publication grapples with financial struggles that has seen the departure of top leadership.
Matt Pearce, the president of Media Guild West, wrote on X/Twitter that 94 guild members were “being notified of intended layoff today, or about one-fourth of our whole membership.”
“This total, while devastating, is nonetheless far lower than the total number of Guild layoffs initially expected last week.”
Reporters started posting that they had received notices this morning.
Newsroom sources said that a total of around 115 people would be impacted, but the figure could fluctuate as the layoff process moved over the next 30 days. The Times’ Meg James also reported that figure, which is about 20% of the newsroom. That is one of the largest workforce reductions in the paper’s history.
A Times spokeswoman declined to comment. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the owner of the Times, said in an interview with James that the paper was losing $30 million to $40 million a 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. We are committed to doing so,” he said.
The guild staged a walkout last Friday to protest the cuts. On Monday, two more top editors resigned from the Times ahead of the new round of layoffs. Managing Editors Sara Yasin and Shani O. Hilton have exited less than two weeks after executive editor Kevin Merida stepped down from the paper.
In an interview Soon-Shiong wrote that the Times has had losses surpassing $100 million in operational and capital expenses. He told James that the walkout “did not help,” but that they had a “real plan” for the future.
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