The Los Angeles Times is cutting over 10% of its newsroom, according to an email to staff from executive editor Kevin Merida on Wednesday.
“The restructuring stems from the same persistent economic headwinds facing news media across the country,” Mr. Merida said in the memo. “Collectively, we have done a vast amount of work as a company to meet the budget and revenue challenges head on. But that work will need acceleration and we will need more radical transformation in the newsroom for us to become a self-sustaining enterprise.”
The company restructuring will layoff 74 roles and retain 500, according to spokeswoman Hillary Manning, via The New York Times.
Reporting positions will remain intact, but other full-time and temporary workers will be cut. Leadership and supporting staff including managing editors, editors on the news and copy desks, audience engagement team members, and audio producers will be let go.
“Decisions that result in talented staffers losing their jobs are agonizing,” Merida wrote. “We will be saying goodbye to some tremendous colleagues.”
The layoffs mark the first significant downsizing since Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife Michele bought the newspaper five years ago from Tribune Publishing. Following Shoon-Shiong’s acquisition, over 150 journalists have joined the newsroom, which was doing well in early 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic sidetracked the paper’s upward trend toward profitability with closures and disrupted advertising.
The newsroom won two Pulitzer Prizes last month, and the staff was honored for its coverage of the L.A. City Hall scandal that involved leaked audio recording of racist banter by three then-council members. The L.A. Times’ feature photography was also awarded.
“The Los Angeles Times is one of the greatest journalistic institutions in the country, and, frankly, in the world. It sits without peer west of the Mississippi River. It is filled with phenomenal journalists — the prodigiously accomplished, the promising and the rising,” Merida wrote. “And we are on the brink, I’m convinced, of doing something extraordinary — transforming a 141-year-old newspaper into a truly next-generation digital powerhouse that serves the people of this city, and the world, in unparalleled ways.”
The L.A. Times joins CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Insider, Vice Media and the Washington Post as organizations that have had to lay off staff in recent months.