Featuredjournalismla timesTaylor Lorenz

Mass Layoffs at LA Times and Taylor Lorenz Worries About the Trend – HotAir

Last week the LA Times union held a one day walkout to protest coming cuts which would eliminate about 20% of the workforce. The paper had one executive editor and two managing editors resign within a week. The owner also got pushback from a group of California Democrats who expressed concern that the Times was an “irreplaceable source” for their constituents. In other words, where are they going to find another left-leaning news outlet willing to nearly always agree with Democrats?

Monday I predicted that despite all the whinging the owner was going to make the cuts as planned  simply because the amount of money the paper has been losing ever year ($30 to$40 million this year alone) is not sustainable even for a billionaire. Also because one report I read suggested the owner’s wife was brought to tears seeing him write million dollar checks every week. Taking a financial hit for Team-D only goes so far. Tuesday the layoffs hit:

The Los Angeles Times, the largest newspaper in California and one of the biggest by circulation in the entire United States, was hit with a heavy round of layoffs Tuesday. The move to terminate more than 110 positions within the company has been widely rumored for several weeks — even prompting a one-day walkout protest from the newsroom last week — but the scale of the layoffs, and when those layoffs would happen, was not widely known until Tuesday morning.

One thing that seems clear when you look at this story as an outsider is that union culture made everything much worse. LA remains an entertainment industry town and the union decision to go on strike last year wound up hurting the Times which lost a boatload of Hollywood advertising money because of the strike. The Times’ own union also didn’t help things.

[Owner Patrick] Soon-Shiong expressed disappointment that the guild did not work with management to come up with a plan that he said would have saved jobs. Instead, the guild rejected the company’s offer and focused its energy on a one-day strike on Friday, which, Soon-Shiong said during an interview, “did not help the situation.”

More than 350 staff members — or about 90% of the guild-covered journalists — refused to work Friday to protest the pending cuts.

In his memo, Argentieri said managers had offered a seven-day period to accept volunteers for buyouts as long as guild leaders agreed to temporarily relax provisions in the contract that require layoffs to target those with the least seniority. But the guild rejected the overture.

If the guild had been willing to bypass its seniority rules there may have been as few as 50 layoffs. Instead, the guild threw a tantrum with a one day walkout and insisted on sticking to seniority. The result is 110 people cut. Also, because the union stuck to seniority, minority staffers were gutted as they were often the most recent hires.

Minority hires were deeply impacted by the layoffs, according to the guild, with the Latino Caucus losing 38% of its members and the Black Caucus losing 33% of members. The AAPI and MENASA caucuses of the guild will also lose 34% of their combined membership.

The cuts have left less than 20 Black staffers remaining in the union, undercutting previously stated company goals to diversify the staff further by 2025, according to a guild statement on Tuesday.

De Los, a Latino-led, Latino-centered initiative launched in July by Merida, was “gutted” by the layoffs on Tuesday. According to Nieman Lab, De Los cuts included three reporters, an assistant editor, and a culture columnist. The vertical was part of an effort to “engage younger audiences” in an effort to add more digital subscriptions, Merida told Axios. The initiative was also a push to align the newspaper with the demographic makeup of Los Angeles, where half of all residents are Latino.

Again, it didn’t have to be this way. The union chose to stick to the union rules of seniority which in this case meant protecting the older and whiter staffers from cuts by sacrificing the younger and more diverse staffers in greater numbers. Wouldn’t you love to know how all of those woke white staffers justify it to themselves?

And of course the union can’t even manage a thank you for all the time the owner has carried them. All of the failure is someone else’s fault:

“This staffing cut is the fruit of years of middling strategy, the absence of a publisher, and no clear direction,” the guild said in a statement. “We still believe in the Los Angeles Times and the important role it plays in a vibrant democracy. But a newspaper can’t play that role when its staff has been cut to the bone.”

Patrick Soon-Shiong has spent a billion dollars on this paper. How many more years was he supposed to carry them before they could show some sign of growth? That question never gets answered. Apparently the answer was until he goes bankrupt.

Finally, one of the things being blamed for the Times‘ struggles is the rise of social media, including TikTok. So here’s Taylor Lorenz’ TikTok about the bad trend facing journalism. I’m certainly not a fan of Lorenz’ politics but some of what she says in the latter half of this rings true. Specifically, I don’t think the media’s ability to be objective has ever really been in evidence and she’s just one more example of someone who has repeatedly failed upward in her career (The Atlantic, The NY Times, the Washington Post) partly because of her utter confidence that right-wing media is the root of all evil. I’m sure that plays well with her bosses all of whom feel exactly the same way because they too are leftist partisans. It probably never occurs to Taylor that the absolutely one-sided nature of the conversation is one reason so many readers have tuned these outlets out.


Is journalism collapsing?! Major layoffs across the industry are happening and national news brands are shuttering. Just today, the Los Angeles Times laid off 115 people. This follows layoffs at myriad other outlets. The rise of independent journalism on social media has been great, but it’s increasingly hard for independent journalists to sustain a business online, and their work is often shadow-banned and demoted within tech company algorithms. Anyone hoping billionaires might save the media will be disappointed. As the New York Times recently reported: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, bought The Washington Post in 2013 for about $250 million. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong purchased The Los Angeles Times in 2018 for $500 million. Marc Benioff purchased Time magazine for $190 million in 2018. But it increasingly appears that the billionaires are struggling just like nearly everyone else. Time, WaPo and The LA Times all lost millions of dollars last year and the difficulties facing the companies are getting only more severe. Web traffic has waned for many publishers as referrals from search engines like Google ebb, and the rise of new applications powered by artificial intelligence has the potential to erode readership further. “These vitally important news publications still find themselves ‘transitioning’ from print to digital — with major ongoing legacy business costs — as they build brick by brick a mainly digital future,” said Ken Doctor, an analyst and media entrepreneur. Mr. Doctor said the billionaires in the news industry were showing “greater signs of fatigue,” stemming from challenges including “news anxiety and avoidance and fierce advertising competition.” “The very rich find it very difficult to lose money year over year,” Mr. Doctor said, “even if they can afford it.” 👉🏻 Follow me @taylorlorenz for more tech and online culture breakdowns 👈🏻 #news #journalism #media #latimes #nyt #washingtonpost #jobs #journojobs #gaming #popculture #music #sports #contentcreator #creator #influencer #journalist #apps #internet #onlineculture #internetculture #socialmedia #technology #elonmusk #commentary #justchatting

♬ Summertime Sadness (Wren Remix) – Wren

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