About 250 positions will be eliminated paper-wide, including 150 newsroom jobs. That's 17 percent of the editorial staff (the newsroom currently has 876 people). Also, the number of pages published each week will be reduced by 15 percent. The cuts were outlined in memos released by Publisher David Hiller and Editor Russ Stanton. From the LAT:
You all know the paradox we find ourselves in," Times Editor Russ Stanton said in a memo to the staff. "Thanks to the Internet, we have more readers for our great journalism than at any time in our history. But also thanks to the Internet, our advertisers have more choices, and we have less money." He also noted that the poor economy had struck particularly hard at the California housing market, traditionally a robust source of advertising revenue for The Times.
Stanton didn't provide many details, other than he hopes to make the cuts by Labor Day. Perhaps lost in the staff cuts is the decision to combine the print and Web staffs into a single operation. At this point, it's really all about the Web. Hiller said "we want to get ahead of the economy that's been rolling down on us and get to a size that will be sustainable." The cuts are based on his expectation that the downturn will bottom out early next year. (That's fine for the overall economy, but a bit doubtful for the newspaper business.) When the dust settles, there will be about 700 people in the newsroom, which is a stunning decline from the 1990s and yet reflective of a business that's in terrible shape. From Hiller's memo:
As we move forward, our plans include:
--A re-designed flagship Los Angeles Times newspaper to debut in the fall, reflecting the work of the Reinvent team, the Spring Street Project, and related efforts underway for quite some time.
--A re-designed latimes.com website.
--A combined multimedia newsroom to produce excellent content for both.
--More targeted products for new audience segments.
--A re-organized sales team fired up to turn our revenue picture around Increased utilization of our operating strengths so we can print and distribute newspapers and other products all across SoCal.