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Los Angeles Times to lay off one-fourth of newsroom staff starting this week, union head says

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January 23, 2024
By The Associated Press

Georgia Geen, multiplatform editor for the Los Angeles Times, joins other staffers and supporter carrying signs and chanting slogans in front of City Hall, Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, in Los Angeles, Guild members of the Los Angeles Times participated in one-day walkout to protest imminent layoffs. The job action Friday is the first newsroom union work stoppage in the history of the newspaper, which began printing in 1881. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Times plans to lay off 94 newsroom employees — one-fourth of its newsroom staff — starting Tuesday, a number that is substantial but less than feared, the head of the journalists union said.

The announcement comes after the LA Times Guild walked off the job last Friday to protest the imminent layoffs, the first newsroom union work stoppage in the newspaper’s 143-year history.

Matt Pearce, president of the Media Guild of the West, which encompasses the Times’ union, called it a “dark day.” He said the layoffs represent one-fourth of the Times Guild’s entire membership.

“Many departments and clusters across the newsroom will be heavily hit,” Pearce said in a statement Tuesday. “This total, while devastating, is nonetheless far lower than the number of layoffs the Bargaining Committee was expecting last week.”

He said some of those selected for layoffs by management may be eligible for buyouts under the union contract.

Layoffs and buyouts have hit a wide swath of the news industry over the past year. The Washington Post, NPR, CNN and Vox Media are among the many companies hit.

An estimated 2,681 news industry jobs were lost through the end of November, according to the employment firm of Challenger, Gray and Christmas. That was more than the full years of 2022 and 2021.

The latest round of job cutting at the LA Times comes after more than 70 positions — about 13% of the newsroom — were slashed last June.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a biotech billionaire, acquired the Times in 2018, returning it to local ownership two decades after it was sold to Tribune Co. The purchase raised hopes after years of cutbacks, circulation declines and leadership changes.

Earlier this month, Executive Editor Kevin Merida abruptly left after a 2 1/2-year tenure.

Pearce said the union’s bargaining committee would meet with Times management on Wednesday to start discussions about the layoffs as set out by the contract.

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