The threatened layoffs began today down on Spring Street. Reports vary on numbers, but I'm hearing that somewhere around 20-25 editorial staffers are being dismissed. Times spokeswoman Martha Goldstein didn't detail the numbers [see later Carroll memo below], but she confirmed that two small Inland Empire papers the Times owns through its Times Community News unit, the Rancho Cucamonga Voice and Claremont/Upland Voice, are shutting down. Staffers of the two papers were fired or, in some cases, relocated to other parts of the company. Said Goldstein:
Last year, the Los Angeles Times launched the Inland Empire edition that features expanded coverage of local and regional news and issues in this fast-growing region. TCN will continue to publish a roster of community newspapers that include the Burbank Leader, the News-Press, Huntington Beach Independent, the Daily Pilot and the Coastline Pilot.
At the Times itself, last week's voluntary buyouts included Metro reporter/author Dave Ferrell, whose is leaving to continue writing novels. His first, Screwball (published last year by William Morrow), is coming out in paperback in August. His second, a dark-comedy detective novel set in LA called The Trail of the Ultra-Bimbo, is in the agent's hands looking for a publisher now. Also: Robert Niles, a producer at LATimes.com, took the buyout and will devote more time to his specialty websites, ThemeParkInsider.com and Violinist.com.
* Carroll memo: Times editor John Carroll let the staff know late Monday afternoon that the layoffs of 20 editorial staffers have been completed. His memo follows:
On Friday, we notified all 42 staff members who applied for voluntary buyouts that their applications had been accepted. Today, we are notifying an additional 20 staff members that they are being laid off.
All of the people who are leaving have made meaningful contributions to the paper and to life in the newsroom. We are sorry to be losing them. This is a wrenching time for them -- and also for those who are staying, some of whom are taking on more responsibility.
In recent years, this staff has shown that it can make an already impressive newspaper steadily stronger. With your inspired work, that trend can continue in the months to come, and it can continue rapidly. It is crucial that this episode of cost cutting prove to be nothing more than that - a bump in the road, not a change in direction.
I appreciate all you are doing for the Los Angeles Times.
** Several positions at the Times website also were eliminated, and there is a report that LATimes.com general manager Steve Barth departed.