One of the nation’s largest liberal newspapers is going through disarray after mass layoffs struck the newsroom recently.
The Los Angeles Times had the largest newsroom in the western part of the United States, but severe layoffs are on the horizon, and some senior leaders of the editorial board have quit abruptly.
Earlier this week, an anonymous staffer at the paper spoke to CNN and said:
“I cannot overstate the level of chaos.”
What happened first was that Kevin Merida, the executive editor of the paper, abruptly announced he was leaving, even though he had only been serving in that role for less than three years.
Then, news broke that mass layoffs were going to be coming. The employee’s union at the paper staged a huge walk-out last Friday in protest.
Meg James, a reporter for the LA Times, reported that the paper’s management was expected to lay off as much as 20% of the staff in the newsroom, which would equate to about 100 total positions.
That being said, Oliver Darcy wrote an op-ed for CNN, saying that sources told him it could ultimately be “much worse” than just that.
The Associated Press reported that at least 115 employees would be laid off starting next Tuesday, and it’ll mark perhaps the largest cut in staff in the 143 years that the newspaper has been in existence.
Matt Pearce, who serve as Media Guild of the West’s president — which oversees the union at the LA Times — said it would be a “dark day.” He issued a formal statement about the matter, saying:
“Many departments and clusters across the newsroom will be heavily hit. This total, while devastating, is nonetheless far lower than the number of layoffs the Bargaining Committee was expecting last week.”
It’s possible that some of the people who are going to be laid off could be eligible for a buyout, due to the terms of the contract with the union.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who owns the LA Times, said that the staff layoffs were necessary because the paper couldn’t afford to continue losing as much as $40 million every year without a major boost to revenue from subscriptions and advertising.
As he said earlier this week:
“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.”
The last year has not been a good one for staffers at major media organizations. In addition to the LA Times, Vox Media, CNN, NPR and The Washington Post have all experienced big layoffs.
Employment firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas reported recently that, through the end of last November, nearly 2,700 total jobs in the news industry were slashed. That ended up being more than the total for both 2021 and 2022 combined.
The staff cuts at the LA Times are going to be particularly rough for the paper, considering they already cut roughly 13% of the newsroom staff — more than 70 positions — last June.