More tea-leaf reading at LAT

The Los Angeles Times staffers I've heard from seem pretty convinced there will be a new round of newsroom bloodletting next week, with many fearing the firing starts Monday. A hint of what may result came when editor Russ Stanton reportedly told some in Calendar on Thursday that the section, which is saddled with afternoon deadlines due to a limit on press capacity, would soon get late-night deadlines akin to the news sections Monday through Thursday. He framed it as good news, which it is for Calendar — but it raised alarms elsewhere. From a source:

Not brought up by Stanton, though, is an underlying fact, which could be pretty huge: the Times' press capacity can only produce four sections in the live run. Currently it has the main news section, California, Business and Sports. Obviously, the main news section and Sports have to be there. But it means that one of the other two either has to move into the earlier pre-print -- where Calendar currently runs, and which would turn the section into frozen food, with pointlessly early deadlines -- or dies as a separate entity....

You sort of saw an example of the options and the constrictions this past week...with the special Obama section that ran on Wednesday. It was a huge section, 48 pages, but did you notice that they had a two-page spread of photos that were in black and white? That's because for that big of a run of pages, it placed limitations on the number of color positions they could have, and they had sold all the color spots to advertisers. Also, in order to give that section a later deadline and get [in] news of the balls held in the evening, they moved the Business section into a run with Food while Calendar, which normally runs with Food, ran together with the Classified in second preprint.

The Times surveyed its reader panel last year about killing the Business section or the California section. Sounds like the time may have come for more desperation moves. Earlier this week, the Times pressroom was officially notified that new cuts were coming.

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