The Los Angeles Times is offering voluntary buyouts to staff less than two years after biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the newspaper in hopes of turning it around.
The California Times company, which owns the LA Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, is offering employees a buyout option to employees with at least two years of employment.
“The buyout offer is intended to give us a little more flexibility to create and hire new roles, and to give some staffers who are looking to make a change an opportunity to leave on their own terms,” a spokesperson told TheWrap Thursday.
The LA Times, now privately owned, is widely believed to have lost between $40-$50 million last year, the first time the once-profitable paper has experienced a loss. In the last two years, executive editor Norman Pearlstine has grown the newsroom by over 100 reporters, so the buyout offer looks like a reversal on that expansion.
“More than $100 million has been invested in staff, technology and infrastructure over the past 20 months,” said a Times spokes person, who also noted that was put into the company above revenues generated by the company.
“The LA Times remained profitable for many years only by cutting expenses. This is different,” the spokesperson said. “We are rebuilding after separating from Tribune Publishing and growing our own organization.”
Over the past 20 months, the Times has increased its headcount by 25% and overall wages for existing staff have increased across the board, according to the spokesperson.
They expanded on the internal memo regarding the offer obtained by CNN’s Brian Stelter. That memo notes any employee who has been with the company more than two years is eligible to apply for the buyout.
“This is one step of many as we further the transformation of the company,” the spokesperson said. “We are committed to investing in areas that strengthen our ability to compete, grow revenue and produce vital journalism in the public interest.”
Soon-Shiong took control of the Times and the rest of what was then known as the California News Group in June 2018, which brought the newspaper back under local ownership for the first time in nearly two decades. The outlets were owned previously by Tribune Publishing back when it was still called Tronc, and under Tronc ownership, the Times faced years of turbulence and uncertainty.