Los Angeles Times Layoffs, Asset Sale Are Danger Signs From a Once-Optimistic Billionaire

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“It is valid to question the long-term commitment,” a media critic says of Patrick Soon-Shiong’s ownership. “There is no way to know when they will run out of patience”

Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong
Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong has shed one of the two California newspapers he bought in 2018. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The sale of the San Diego Union-Tribune and billionaire owner Patrick Soon-Shiong’s subsequent promise to make the Los Angeles Times “self-sustaining” have generated fresh doubt about his commitment to the publication he bought for $500 million just five years ago with talk of a “hundred-year plan” to reinvent Hollywood’s hometown paper.

How time flies. Coming on the heels of 74 newsroom layoffs, offloading an asset like the Union-Tribune last week is a clear sign that Soon-Shiong’s investment in the Los Angeles flagship publication is struggling, and that the owner is taking extreme measures to offset financial losses.

“The fundamental problem here is that billionaires are fickle,” Press Watch editor Dan Froomkin told TheWrap.