Update on newspaper angst

Newsroom staffers at the Los Angeles Times have been told to expect the newest layoff taps to be delivered Monday, amid talk that the numbers to be let go are creeping up past the 70 (and 300 paper-wide) that publisher Eddy Hartenstein had previously decided on. Some of the paper's best remaining journalists are preparing to go, as angst levels were kicked up to new levels by 1) a severance package expected to be worth half of last year's and 2) Hartenstein's remarks that the paper is on the verge of operating in the red for the first time, that online and print advertising are declining, and that one outcome of Tribune bankruptcy could be a "Circuit City scenario" in which the Times and other assets are liquidated.

Also today:

  • The Chicago Tribune cut 12 more news positions and said it will close its Jerusalem bureau.
  • Newspaper analyst Alan Mutter predicts that Media News (owner of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group) is one of two big newspaper publishers closest to default.
  • USC Annenberg director Geneva Overholser predicts on tonight's So Cal Connected segment on newspapers (based on the teaser) that sometime this year, a major U.S. city will be left without a daily newspaper. It airs at 8 p.m.
  • Erin Aubry Kaplan, the former L.A. Times Op-Ed columnist, blogs for KCET that the Times is dying the death of a thousand paper cuts.
  • The SPJ chapter here will hold a Feb. 18 panel called "Imagine a City Without a Newspaper" hosted by Fox 11's John Schwada and including Overholser, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Daily News editor Carolina Garcia, Times California editor David Lauter and LAT media columnist James Rainey.
  • Charley Rose had a future of newspapers discussion on his PBS show.

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