The Los Angeles Times announced on Tuesday a significant reduction in its workforce, laying off at least 115 employees, which constitutes over 20% of its newsroom.
This decision marks one of the largest workforce reductions in the 142-year history of the newspaper, the company announced.
The decision comes in the wake of consecutive years of considerable financial losses for the LA Times.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, explained that the cuts were essential.
The paper, he said, could no longer afford to lose $30 million to $40 million annually without making strides in building a larger readership base, crucial for increasing advertising and subscription revenues.
Dr. Soon-Shiong emphasized the need for drastic changes, including appointing new leadership focused on enhancing the newspaper’s journalism to attract more readers.
“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,” said Soon-Shiong.
He also expressed disappointment with the newsroom guild for not collaborating with management to devise a plan that could have saved jobs. Instead, the guild chose to focus on a one-day strike last Friday, which Soon-Shiong remarked, “did not help.”
Matt Pearce, President of the Media Guild of the West and a reporter at the Times, informed guild members that 94 of the positions cut were covered by the guild, a quarter of its members. Pearce described the situation as a “dark day” for the newspaper, with several departments across the newsroom being heavily affected.
A newsroom-wide email from L.A. Times President and COO Chris Argentieri just now acknowledges that the company decided to reduce the number of @latguild members to be laid off after we went on strike last week.
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) January 23, 2024
Dr. Soon-Shiong also expressed frustration with previous leadership and their efforts, or lack thereof, in expanding the paper’s reach through Los Angeles Times Studios, which aimed to bring the paper’s journalism to a wider audience through documentaries and podcasts.
He cited the recent departure of former Executive Editor Kevin Merida and disagreements over the paper’s direction and the scale of the layoffs.
Reflecting on the challenges faced by the paper, including operational and capital losses surpassing $100 million, Dr. Soon-Shiong emphasized the efforts made to avoid layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. He reiterated the substantial investment made since acquiring the LA Times, almost a billion dollars, underscoring his commitment to its legacy and future.
Following the layoffs, many former employees took to social media to seek new opportunities.
I was part of today’s mass layoffs at the @latimes. Loved the job, would like to have another one. Please reach out if you have any leads/suggestions. Thanks!
— Craig Marks (@craigmarks) January 23, 2024
Got laid off today from the @latimes . Would appreciate any job leads if you’ve got ’em
— Lindsay Blakely (@lindsayblakely) January 23, 2024
Devastated, numb. This is the end of the line for me at the Times. If anyone has job leads, please send them to the dark cave I’ll be staying in for the next few days. https://t.co/ZwUsrfwbI1
— Lila Seidman (@lila_seidman) January 23, 2024
I’ve been laid off from the @latimes. It’s been an honor to work at the paper for nearly a decade, launching a video game beat, helping to win Pulitzers, covering diverse communities. To my colleagues, @latguild, readers: Thank you.
— Sarah Parvini (سارا) (@sarahparvini) January 23, 2024
My team at De Los was gutted. I can’t find the words to express how much I feel for them and the rest of my @latimes colleagues. For many, working here was THE dream job; others, uprooted their lives. For all of us, it’s a privilege to tell stories that reflect our communities
— Jessica Perez (@JessicaPerezLA2) January 23, 2024
I was laid off today at the @latimes. I’m really proud to have been part of the DC bureau and to have worked with so many dedicated and talented journalists – both in DC and LA – some who are among the more than 100 who received the same news today.
— Courtney Subramanian (@cmsub) January 23, 2024
Last week, NBC News confirmed that it is also laying off a number of its employees, a decision that has sparked considerable backlash from union representatives.
The layoffs, described as impacting a double-digit number of employees within its roughly 3,500-strong workforce, are expected to affect between 50 to 100 individuals. This news comes amidst a broader trend of workforce reductions in major media outlets, including CNN, NPR, and The Washington Post.
Sources familiar with the matter indicate that those affected will receive 60 days’ notice, along with severance packages and outplacement services.