Los Angeles Times to cut 250 jobs
Associated Press
Published: Wednesday July 2, 2008

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The Los Angeles Times plans to cut 250 positions, including 150 jobs in the print and Web news departments, amid a continuing industrywide slump in ad sales, the paper's editor said in a memo Wednesday.

The move followed an announcement last week that the paper's parent, Tribune Co., is exploring the sale of its headquarters in Chicago and the building in downtown Los Angeles that houses the Times.

Half a dozen major newspapers announced layoffs last week totaling about 900 jobs.

Also Wednesday, Journal Sentinel Inc. said it would cut about 10 percent of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 1,300 full-time employees and Media General Inc. said it would lay off 21 newsroom employees at The Tampa Tribune by early fall as part of a one-fifth cut in its news staff.

Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton said new online ads did not make up for the drop in print advertising revenue, and he pointed in particular to the declining California real estate market.

"Thanks to the Internet, we have more readers for our great journalism than at any time in our history," Stanton wrote. "But also thanks to the Internet, our advertisers have more choices, and we have less money."

The Times will also publish 15 percent fewer pages per week, he said.

The cuts were made assuming the economy would stabilize early next year and were designed to help the paper "get ahead of the economy that's been rolling down on us and get to a size that will be sustainable," said Times Publisher David Hiller.

The editorial staff of 876 people will shrink by about 17 percent to more than 700 people by Labor Day. The Times will combine its print and Web departments into one operation with a single budget, said Stanton. Many newspapers have kept the operations separate.

Jobs will also be eliminated in circulation, marketing and advertising, bringing total employment to about 3,000 at the Times, local weekly papers, the Spanish-language daily Hoy and latimes.com.

"These moves will be difficult and painful," Stanton said in his memo. "But it is absolutely crucial that as we move through this process, we must maintain our ambition and our determination to produce the highest-quality journalism in print and online, every day."

Hiller did not provide details on the severance terms to be offered but said he expected they would be similar to earlier staff buyouts, including payment equivalent to two weeks' salary for every year of service, up to 52 weeks.

The paper cut 100 jobs, including at least 40 in the newsroom, in February. Continuing reductions have pared the Times' news staff from its 2001 level of nearly 1,200.

The Times said its daily print circulation was 779,682, citing Audit Bureau of Circulation figures for the six-month period ending in September 2007. Papers around the country have experienced significant declines since the fall.