LA Times will lay off at least 115 newsroom workers

EL SEGUNDO, CA – APRIL 17: The Los Angeles Times building and newsroom along Imperial Highway on Friday, April 17, 2020 in El Segundo, CA. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)
(Kent Nishimura/Kent Nishimura/Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

LA Times will lay off at least 115 newsroom workers

Mega James

January 23, 2024

The Los Angeles Times announced Tuesday that it would lay off at least 115 people, or more than 20%, of its newsroom, marking one of the largest staff cuts in the 142-year-old institution’s history.

The move comes amid predictions of another year of heavy losses for the newspaper.

The cuts were necessary because the newspaper could no longer lose $30 to $40 million a year without making progress toward building a larger readership that would bring advertising and subscriptions to the organization, the newspaper’s owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong said Tuesday.

Drastic changes were needed, he said

to install

new leaders who would focus on strengthening the medium’s journalism, making it indispensable to more readers.

Today’s decision is painful for everyone, 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 this, said Soon-Shiong.

Senior editors were part of the purge, including Washington bureau chief Kimbriell Kelly, Washington deputy bureau chief Nick Baumann, business editor Jeff Bercovici, books editor Boris Kachka and music editor Craig Marks. Washington’s photography and sports departments saw dramatic cuts, including several award-winning photographers. The video unit was hollowed out. The cuts come nearly six years after Soon-Shiong and his family bought The Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune from Tribune Publishing for $500 million. The Soon-Shiong acquisition ushered in a period of growth and hiring, reversing more than a decade of devastating budget cuts and declining journalistic ambitions. With new local ownership, The Times set out to rebuild California and the West and provide robust reporting. But economic headwinds, which intensified when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and wiped out more than $60 million in advertising revenue almost overnight, disrupted the paper’s turnaround. The newspaper maintained its newsroom of more than 500 people during the pandemic until last summer, when another dramatic downturn in advertising caused by labor unrest in Hollywood worsened its financial picture. “The economic realities of our organization are extremely challenging,” Chris Argentieri, president and chief operating officer of The Times, said in a memo distributed to staff announcing the layoffs. “Despite our owners’ willingness to continue investing, we must take immediate steps to improve our cash position.” The news business has deteriorated in recent years as more consumers turn to TikTok and other social media platforms for entertainment and information. Established media outlets, including NBC News, ABC News, CNN, the Washington Post, Cond Nast and Buzzfeed News, have all laid off staff in the past year. According to a recent report, more than 2,300 journalism jobs will disappear by 2023. The cuts were necessary because the newspaper could no longer lose $30 to $40 million a year without making progress toward building a larger readership that would bring in advertising and subscriptions to sustain the organization. Drastic changes were needed, he said, including new leaders who would focus on strengthening the medium’s journalism to become indispensable to more readers.

Tuesday’s announcement follows a week of tension between management and the editorial guild over the budget cuts.

Soon Shiong

on Tuesday

expressed his disappointment that the


Guild did not work with management to come up with a plan that he said would have saved jobs. Instead of,

the guild rejected the company’s offer and

last Friday he focused his energy on a one-day strike, which, he said in an interview, did not help.

Media Guild of the West President Matt Pearce sent a memo to newsroom union members early Tuesday, saying he had just learned that positions among the 94 guilds were among the staff reductions.

They included LA Times unity guild president Brian Contreras, who announced his departure on X, formerly known as Twitter. About a quarter of guild members lost their jobs, Pearce said.

“It’s a dark day for the Los Angeles Times,” wrote Pearce, a Times reporter. “Many departments and clusters in the newsroom will be severely affected.”

The guild contract, which was negotiated in 2019 and remains in effect, outlines a procedure to allow unaffected staff members to voluntarily sign up for a buyout. If that happens, some of the people informed on Tuesday may be spared.

Pearce said the union’s bargaining committee would meet with Times management on Wednesday. Although serious, Argentieri said in his memo that the original plans were to lay off additional staff.

“After consultation with our editorial leaders and owners, the company has reduced the number of affected employees,” Argentieri wrote.

In the interview,

Soon-Shiong transferred


deep frustration with past leadership and efforts to build the Los Angeles Times Studios to bring the paper’s journalism to more consumers through documentaries and podcasts.

He said

The owner said he acknowledged several months ago that former editor-in-chief Kevin Merida, who resigned earlier this month, and


high-ranking editors

who put Merida in his place

didn’t get the job done.

Merida said he left the newspaper behind

about disagreements with Soon-Shiong over his role as top editor and strategy, as well as the size of

the approaching


“It is indeed difficult to reflect on the recent tumultuous years, during which our company has faced significant challenges, including losses exceeding $100 million in operating and capital costs,” Soon-Shiong said. “Despite these difficulties, we have made a conscious decision to refrain from layoffs within our newsroom during the COVID pandemic, maintaining newsroom staffing levels despite losses until the last few months.

“Since acquiring the Los Angeles Times, we have invested nearly $1 billion, underscoring our commitment to preserving the legacy and securing the future,” he said.

In the interview,

Soon Shiong


pushed back on the story that The Times was in turmoil.

“We are not in turmoil. We have a real plan,” he said.


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