The Society of Professional Journalists is concerned about the extreme staffing cuts made at the Los Angeles Times. This is the latest media company to make cuts in a discouraging time for journalism with disappearing advertising revenue and struggles to get funding.
On Wednesday, the Times announced that it is eliminating 74 positions in the newsroom, representing about 13% of the total and about half of the 150 positions that were created after local billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the paper in 2018.
“This is yet another sign of a disturbing trend across our industry. When newsroom management makes these kinds of cuts, the public becomes less informed, which puts our very Democracy at risk,” said SPJ Vice President Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins. “We hope LA Times management adheres to its collective bargaining agreement with the LA Times Guild and offers buyouts to the unionized staff impacted before imposing these layoffs.”
Although SPJ is glad that reporting positions will remain largely unaffected, they are concerned about the loss of production staff. Nearly a third of the cuts come from news and copy editor ranks with the audience engagement team, photojournalists, audio producers and temporary workers also taking a big hit.
Journalism is essential to keeping citizens engaged and informed. Each role in the newsroom plays a vital part in making that happen. SPJ wants to see more journalists in communities, not fewer.
According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Media industry has announced 17,436 cuts so far in 2023, the highest year-to-date (YTD) on record. The second-highest YTD for the sector occurred in 2020 when 16,750 cuts were announced through May. After 2020, the next highest YTD occurred in 2001, when 15,984 Media cuts were announced in the first five months of the year. News, which Challenger tracks as a subset of Media and includes broadcast, digital, and print, has announced 1,972 cuts so far this year, surpassing the 1,808 announced in all of 2022.