Yesterday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for reporters, editors and other L.A. Times editorial staffers who had applied for the buyout to rescind their requests if they changed their minds. First reports are that nowhere close to the quota of 60 staffers took the buyout, so the Chicago-ordered layoffs will begin. Employees were offered one week of salary for every six months of employment (up to a maximum of one year's pay) as an inducement to voluntarily leave. Each area of the paper was given a target number of positions to be cut, either through buyouts or layoffs. Newsroom gossip says the Metro staff has to lose 12 people, a morale-sapping turn so soon after the high of grabbing one of the paper's five Pulitzer prizes in April. Welcome to L.A. Michael Kinsley, who is now listed on the Times masthead -- though not in at least one copy of the paper today in the San Gabriel Valley. There the masthead showed publisher John Puerner and editor John Carroll, but the other dozen titled editors usually listed were missing.
* Update: It appears there's an interim step before layoffs. Reports are that prime candidates for layoff are being pulled aside and urged (unofficially) to accept a buyout, and thus receive a better severance than if they wait and get the axe. This may be because quite a few staffers rescinded their buyout requests. There's also a rumor that the New York Times is lurking around, urging selected reporters to collect buyout cash then jump to the NYT.
** And: At the Poynter Institute website, newspaper editor Geneva Overholser weighs in on the issue of profit pressures on papers. (Thanks to Joseph for the pointer)
Previously on L.A. Observed: LAT cuts: 'Fair, humane, swift'