The Los Angeles Times in Crisis: Stalled Subscriptions, Drowsy Leadership, Slack Channel Trash Talk (Exclusive)

”This very much feels like a sink-or-swim moment for the paper,“ a veteran reporter says

One year ago, top editors at the Los Angeles Times delivered a sobering update to the newsroom: The future of the paper was at stake. With  170,000 digital subscribers, the Times was far from its target of 300,000 for the year — a number that didn’t even cover half of the newsroom’s costs. It was an alarmed call to action, leading to the formation of a special “sprint” team to focus on increasing conversions — whereby a non-subscribing reader takes the plunge to become a subscriber — and a plea that everyone in the newsroom make subscription conversions their “top priority.”

Now, a full year later, the Times has barely surpassed its previous goals. Despite an influx of new paying subscribers, the paper had 253,000 paying digital subscribers and 356,000 total digital subscribers — which includes readers accessing content via Apple News subscriptions — as of last week, according to the paper. Hillary Manning, a spokesperson for the Times, said the “number of direct paid digital subscribers has increased by at least 78,500 since the beginning of February,” in response to questions from TheWrap.

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J. Clara Chan

Media and politics reporter • • Twitter: @jclarachan