(Repeats to more subscribers)
(Updates with Times planning redesign, combined newsrooms)
By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES, July 2 The Los Angeles Times will
slash 250 jobs, including 150 in the newsroom, and trim its
published pages by 15 percent in an effort to save money in the
face of declining revenues, the newspaper said on Wednesday.
The cuts are the latest in a series for the Times, which
will have whittled its newsroom from nearly 1,200 reporters in
2000 to just over 700 as circulation and advertising revenues
have faded in the face of competition from the Internet.
Most of the business-side positions had already been
eliminated and the editorial jobs will be gone by Labor Day, in
time for the Times to combine its print and Web newsrooms, the
The Times also intends to roll out new redesigned versions
of both its print and Web editions.
"These moves will be difficult and painful," Editor Russ
Stanton said in a memo to the staff. "But it is absolutely
crucial that as we move through this process, we must maintain
our ambition and our determination to produce the
highest-quality journalism in print and online, every day."
The Times said in a separate story on the website that the
editorial cuts amounted to about 17 percent of the staff.
Publisher David Hiller told the paper that the goal of the
cutbacks was long-term survival.
"We want to get ahead of the economy that's been rolling
down on us and get to a size that will be sustainable," Hiller
said, adding that he expected the downturn to "bottom out" by
$13 BILLION IN DEBT
The layoffs are part of a wider effort at Tribune to reduce
expenses as it labors under some $13 billion in debt -- a good
portion coming from an $8.2 billion buyout led by Chicago real
estate tycoon Sam Zell that took Tribune off the public
Some debt analysts say Tribune could default on its debt as
early as next year. According to Reuters Loan Pricing Corp, the
company needs to repay at least $1.6 billion of its loan
facilities in 2008 and 2009.
The Chicago-based company has been selling off properties
and is looking to divest even more, including the Chicago Cubs
baseball team and Wrigley Field. It agreed in May to sell New
York Newsday, its Long Island-based paper, to Cablevision
Systems Corp CVC.N for $650 million.
Morale at the paper has also been rocked by the departure
of a string of editors and publishers who had resisted orders
from Tribune to lower costs. Former publisher Jeffrey Johnson
and former editor Dean Baquet both left the paper in 2006, as
did Baquet's replacement, Jim O'Shea.
Before Wednesday, the most recent round of cuts came in
February, when the paper lost 100 jobs, 40 in the newsroom.
Tribune's problems mirror that at other U.S. newspapers:
revenue is falling, dragging profit margins along with it, as
advertisers flee to the Internet. Newspapers in California and
Florida are suffering especially as the downturn in the housing
market cuts into advertising revenue.
Other Tribune newspapers are sharing in the pain. Tribune
will cut 100 jobs at The Sun in Baltimore and 60 jobs at the
Hartford Courant in Connecticut.
Elsewhere in the industry, McClatchy Co (MNI.N), which
publishes the Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee, said last month
it would slash about 10 percent of its staff. The Boston Herald
and Cox Newspapers also are cutting back, as are the New York
Times (NYT.N) and Washington Post WPO.N.
(Additional reporting by Robert MacMillan in New York; Editing
by Gunna Dickson and Braden Reddall)