Rumble At The 'LA Times': Layoffs Are Planned, Job Action Is Held

The Los Angeles Times newsroom is roiling. 

No sooner had the news come out that Kevin Merida was stepping down as executive editor over a policy issue when an alleged plan for mass layoffs was revealed. A work stoppage to protest the job cuts was scheduled for Friday, Jan. 19. 

The newspaper, which is owned by Patrick Soon-Shiong, planned to lay off up to 400 employees, according to Politico.  

The Los Angeles Times Guild scheduled a one-day, multi-city walkout to protest the job cuts

This action would be the first newsroom union work stoppage in Times history, according to the Guild.  

The Guild is demanding a number, to be told who is making decisions, and more Guild input.



“The changes to our contract that management is trying to pressure us into accepting are obscene and unsustainable,” said Brian Contreras, chair of the Guild’s Unit Council. 

Contreras adds: “If this newsroom will ever be a place where reporters can have a reliable, steady job and put down roots in Los Angeles, that will only happen through the preservation of our seniority protections." 

If the Times management thinks the paper’s financial situation is untenable, “they need to come to the bargaining table in good faith and work out a buyout plan with us that would first articulate a clear headcount or cost saving they’re aiming for, and then seek to hit that number with as many buyouts — and as few layoffs — as possible,” Contreras continues.

Last June, the Times reduced its newsroom staff by 13% — some 74 positions. 

Meanwhile, the news came out that Merida -- who took over almost three years ago -- had drawn criticism for restricting reporters who had signed a protest letter condemning Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attacks from covering the conflict in Gaza, according to The New York Times.

That decision reflected sound journalistic practice. The New York Times, for one, does not allow journalists to participate in protests.  

Still, whatever the logic, Merida’s departure was unsettling and amplified the feeling of uncertainty at the Times.  

Last year, Alden Global Capital’s MediaNews acquired the San Diego Union-Tribune from the Los Angeles Times for an undisclosed sum.

As part of that transaction, La Jolla Light, was also acquired.


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