‘L.A. Times’ Cuts 250 Jobs, 15% of Pages

By: Joe Strupp

The Los Angeles Times today announced plans to cut 250 positions across the company, including 150 positions in editorial that amount to 17% of newsroom jobs, according to a story on the paper’s Web site, which described it as “a new effort to bring expenses into line with declining revenue. In a further cost-cutting step, the paper will reduce the number of pages it publishes each week by 15%.”

“You all know the paradox we find ourselves in,” Times Editor Russ Stanton said in a memo to the staff. “Thanks to the Internet, we have more readers for our great journalism than at any time in our history. But also thanks to the Internet, our advertisers have more choices, and we have less money.”

“The cuts reflect conditions across the newspaper industry, which is confronting sharply deteriorating print advertising revenues,” the story added. “Although online ad revenues are rising, they have not made up for the losses. Amid the current nationwide economic slowdown, the prospects are for continued revenue shrinkage through the end of this year.”

Times Publisher David Hiller told the paper the goal of the cuts was to “get to where we need to be for the long term. We want to get ahead of the economy that’s been rolling down on us and get to a size that will be sustainable.”

The editorial staff cuts will be among positions cut across all departments of The Times, including circulation, marketing, and advertising, Hiller said. Companywide employment will be about 3,000 after the reductions.

“The editorial staff cuts, which amount to roughly 17%, will be spread between the print newsroom and The Times’ Web operations and are to be completed by Labor Day,” the paper revealed. “The two operations currently employ about 876 people, meaning that the editorial staff will remain above 700. The paper would continue to have one of the largest corps of editors and reporters in the country. Details on the reductions, including severance terms, will be forthcoming.”

Stanton told the Associated Press that the biggest reason people gave for canceling their subscriptions was that they didn’t have enough time in the day to read the whole paper.

His full memo follows:

*****************************

From: Stanton, Russ
Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 2:05 PM
To:
Subject: Newsroom job cuts

Colleagues:

You all know the paradox we find ourselves in: Thanks to the Internet, we have more readers for our great journalism than at any time in our history. But also thanks to the Internet, our advertisers have more choices, and we have less money. Add to that a poor economy, particularly for us in the California housing market, and you quickly see why a wave of cutbacks has swept through newsrooms this year from New York to Santa Ana.

We are not immune. As David Hiller mentioned in his memo last week we are embarking on another round of cost cutting. I deeply regret to report we will be reducing the size of our editorial staff, both print and Web, by a total of 150 positions, and reducing the number of pages we publish eachweek, by about 15%.

These moves will be difficult and painful. But it is absolutely crucial that as we move through this process, we must maintain our ambition and our determination to produce the highest-quality journalism in print and online, every day.

Through all of our changes, we continue to give readers terrific coverage, whether it’s the continuing collapse of the housing market, public pools that have been taken over by gangs, or the controversy surrounding liver transplants at one of our most prestigious hospitals. We’ve provided insight into the historic presidential campaign, and we’ve delivered exclusive, on-the-scene looks at the brutal repression in Zimbabwe and the continuing war in Iraq. The future of The Times, in print and on the Web, depends on that kind of journalism — exclusive, original, excellent. We will not retreat from that commitment.

I don’t yet have all the details on the reductions to come, but we expect to complete these moves by Labor Day. We’ll provide more information, including the severance terms, as soon as we can. As part of this process, we will be combining the print and Web staffs into a single operation with a unified budget.

I appreciate your patience, understanding and cooperation during this difficult time. John, Davan and I, and the rest of the senior editing team, will be available to answer your questions. With more than 700 people, we will remain one of the largest and best newsrooms in the country. And we will continue to be a strong and formidable presence in the business we so dearly love.


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