The Los Angeles Times is set to cut at least 115 newsroom positions in a round of layoffs that have been anticipated since last week.
That’s according to the new story in the paper that features an interview with owner Patrick Soon-Shiong. He said Tuesday that the Times needs to bring in more readers who could help build subscription and advertising revenue and stem losses of $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,” Soon-Shiong told the Times. According to Soon-Shiong, he has invested almost $1 billion in the paper since acquiring it in 2018.
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The layoffs constitute more than 20 percent of the newsroom at the Times, according to the paper. They are expected to include both union staffers and managers, with the exact number potentially changing as the union’s contractual layoff procedure continues for the next 30 days. Earlier in the day, the president of the Media Guild of the West, which represents around 400 newsroom staffers at the Times, said on the social media platform X that the union was informed 94 guild jobs would be cut on Tuesday. “This total, while devastating, is nonetheless far lower than the total number of Guild layoffs initially expected last week,” union president Matt Pearce wrote.
The Los Angeles Times declined comment on Tuesday.
In his remarks to the Times on Tuesday, Soon-Shiong expressed frustration over the Los Angeles Times Guild’s decision to participate in a 24-hour walkout Friday over the proposed layoffs. The Guild alleged at the time that in negotiations over the cuts, management attempted to persuade the union to remove its contractual seniority protections. The one-day strike “did not help,” Soon-Shiong told the Times, claiming that if the union had collaborated with the paper’s management, jobs could have been spared.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times Guild pushed back against that notion, saying, “We believe our decision to go on strike saved scores of newsroom jobs today.” The union added, “We still believe in the Los Angeles Times and the important role it plays in a vibrant democracy. But a newspaper can’t play that role when its staff has been cut to the bone.
Soon-Shiong also told Times reporter Meg James that he has believed for months that veteran journalist Kevin Merida, who announced suddenly on Jan. 9 that he was leaving the paper as executive editor, and other leaders were not taking the publication in the right direction. He also broadcast his disappointment with the trajectory of the Los Angeles Times Studios, a branch of the paper that seeks to expand the publication into podcasts, film, television and events.
During the interview, Soon-Shiong also rejected reports that the Times is reeling from the changes. “We are not in turmoil. We have a real plan,” he said.
Jan. 23, 4:20 p.m. Updated to include Los Angeles Times Guild statement.
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