L.A. Times Layoffs Spark Uncertainty in Journalism’s Future

One-fifth of the journalists working for the Los Angeles Times will be saying goodbye to their jobs this week as the company faces a “financial crisis.”

Journalists Laid off in Mass Numbers

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The newsroom at the Los Angeles Times will be a little quieter now, following a layoff of over a hundred journalists. A majority of those impacted are union members. 

Washington Bureau Deeply Impacted

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The layoffs particularly seemed to target the department responsible for coverage of Washington, D.C., which has come as a surprise to many since it is an election year.

Writers Share the News

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Online, those impacted shared their reactions, many noting shock and disappointment with the decisions.

“The LA Times Washington Bureau Was Decimated”

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“The LA Times Washington bureau was decimated … there are five reporters left covering DC,” wrote Sarah Wire, an LA Times reporter whose focus is Washington politics. 

“The Entire Business Desk as We Know It Is Gone”

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“…The entire business desk as we know it is gone, too,” wrote Brian Merchant. Merchant was among the Times reporters who were let go.

Owner Says Decisions Were Difficult

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The owner of the LA Times, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, said that the decision to cut staff wasn’t made lightly, but was a necessary step in protecting the company.

Leadership Jobs Open up as Journalist Jobs Slashed

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In addition to relieving staff, the Times has also begun hiring for leadership positions in an attempt to turn the paper around.

LA Times Hemorrhaging Money

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According to Soon-Shiong, the company is losing $30 to $40 million annually, and hemorrhages like that are rarely sustainable. 

“It Is Imperative That We Act Urgently”

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“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,” said Soon-Shiong. 

Several Departments Impacted

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DC-focused reporters weren’t the only ones on the chopping block. Several editors, photographers, and sports writers received pink slips as well. 

Talent Not a Factor, It Seems

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Some of the talent impacted included award-winning photographers, highlighting the point that the cuts were based on factors outside of performance.

Job Cuts Highest in Paper’s History

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In the 142 years since the LA Times’ inception, there has never been a round of layoffs this massive. Some experts blame social media for the struggling industry.

Mass Layoffs Becoming the Industry Standard

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The LA Times joins many other well-known news companies, including several major networks, who have been eliminating journalist positions in the last year. 

Union Stages a Walkout

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The union that houses most of the impacted staff, The Los Angeles Times Guild, held a one-day strike to protest the layoff decision, and Soon-Shiong was not happy, saying the walkout made matters worse. 

But the union doubled down, shifting the blame back to Soon-Shiong. They released a statement that addressed the matter, calling out the Soon-Shiong family for their actions.

Layoffs Are “The Fruit of Years of Middling Strategy,” Says Union

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“This staffing cut is the fruit of years of middling strategy, the absence of a publisher, and no clear direction,” read the statement. 

“But it’s clear that those entrusted to steward the family’s largesse have failed him – not the rank-and-file staff members with no say in editorial priorities.”

Politicians Get Involved

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Some Congress members have gotten involved in the conversation, specifically California Democrats, who are concerned that the election won’t receive the unbiased coverage it needs as a result of the layoffs.

“Our Community Relies on the Newspaper to Stay Informed”

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“Our community relies on the newspaper to stay informed about local and national events, and a reduction in reporters could have a detrimental impact on the quality of reporting,” said a statement written by the Congress members.

“We Urge You to Consider Alternative Solutions”

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“We urge you to consider alternative solutions that would allow the LA Times to navigate its financial challenges without compromising the integrity and strength of its newsroom,” it continued.

“What Can They Do to Help?”

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But Soon-Shiong said he had exhausted his options and spent millions to improve the Times, and questioned whether politicians could make investments of their own to protect the news.

“I’d like to put the question to them,” Soon-Shiong said. “What can they do to help preserve a free and robust press, one that is instrumental in upholding our democracy?”

Soon-Shiong Asks for “A Fair Chance”

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“All we are asking for is the opportunity for our newspaper and hardworking journalists to be fairly compensated, and for the LA Times to have a fair chance to become a self-sustaining organization.”

Addressing the concerns about the overall health of the paper, Soon-Shiong brushed off the notion that the organization was under water.

“We Are Not in Turmoil”

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

The post L.A. Times Layoffs Spark Uncertainty in Journalism’s Future first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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