LAT to cut 70 more in newsroom, 300 overall

With the news out about killing of the California section, Los Angeles Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein and editor Russ Stanton have sent around their memos announcing the latest round of personnel cuts at the paper. First the publisher:

From: Hartenstein, Eddy
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 12:02 PM
To: zzTrbAllHandsLAT; zzMediaGroups
Subject: Important Message

Colleagues:

As you know from reading our front page and our homepage, not a day goes by that we don't give our readers the latest news and analysis on the deepening troubles of the US economy. The same challenges that face the companies we report about also are affecting us. We need to implement changes to our flagship print product, and throughout our organization, that will ensure our future as the #1 source of news and information in Southern California.

In the coming weeks, we will introduce a number of changes to the way we do business, including a new sectional line-up for the paper. These are necessary to facilitate greater efficiencies in how we approach our operations, production and distribution and, as a result, we expect to eliminate approximately 300 positions.

Beginning March 2nd the paper will be presented in four main news sections:

A/Main News will be repositioned to present local, national and international coverage and opinion together - as each informs, impacts and shapes the others in our everyday lives. The California section report will lead A, followed by The Nation, The World and then Opinion. The result will combine the stories and reporting of our two most widely-read print sections into one cohesive section.

Business will be the second section in the paper, and the report will be enhanced by bringing back the "Company Town" feature, which will serve as the anchor for our "business of entertainment" coverage. The obituaries and weather pages will remain at the back of this new B section.

Sports will be the third section, and we'll be moving the classified advertising pages to the back of this new C section.

Calendar will be the fourth section, and this move allows its deadlines to be pushed deep into the evening (aka "second-daily"), allowing us to make our primary space for entertainment coverage more news-driven. This will enrich this current "must read" section even further, enabling us to add features such as overnight reviews.

The feature-section lineup will remain unchanged, with Health on Monday, Food on Wednesday, Home on Saturday and Image, Travel and Arts & Books on Sunday. The Sunday lineup also will be unchanged, except for the California report appearing in the A section.

These moves are designed to help us deal with the economic realities of the day, while continuing to allow us to deliver a high-quality product to our readers and advertisers. We remain unwavering in our commitment to serve our community and to our mission.

We'll be providing more details in the days ahead.

eddy

Stanton's note says the 70 newsroom positions to be cut represents an 11% staffing bite, on top of the huge whacking that went on last year. If so, that means the new editorial staffing will be about 565 — less than half the strength at the peak under Tribune's pre-Sam Zell ownership.

From: Stanton, Russ
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 12:09 PM
To: yyeditall
Subject: Newsroom staffing

Colleagues:

As you saw from Eddy's note, the tough economy is causing the company to implement another round of job cuts, including in the newsroom. In the coming weeks, the number of jobs across Editorial will be reduced by 70 positions, or 11%. As part of this move, we will be putting into place the final pieces of the newsroom reorganization that we began last year. This includes reclassifying jobs, reconfiguring desks, revamping our workflow and exploring new topic teams. The goal remains to operate a 24/7 newsgathering operation that delivers information to Southern California residents in any medium they consume it.

Other departments at The Times will be undertaking similar cost-saving measures, some more painful than the ones we will experience. We are all too familiar with this process, but over the past year in particular, we have come through each of these downsizings and continued to produce some of the highest-quality journalism in our industry. We simply don't know how to do otherwise.

John, Davan, Meredith and I, as well as your section editors and department heads, are available to answer your questions. We remain commited to providing our readers with an excellent general-interest newspaper and website with top-notch local, national, foreign, business, sports, feature and entertainment reporting.

Russ Stanton
Editor


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