LA Times fires 115 journalists in ‘HR Zoom webinar’

Young journalists of colour disproportionately affected, says the paper’s union.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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The Los Angeles Times has announced that it was laying off 115 journalists, or more than 20 percent of its newsroom. 

Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong, the paper’s billionaire owner, had earlier told the New York Times that Los Angeles Times was losing $30 million to $40 million a year and needed to make more progress in building a larger audience.

On Friday, the union representing the newsroom’s journalists held an unprecedented daylong walkout, urging Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong to reconsider any planned job cuts to tackle the paper’s struggling finances.

After the layoffs were announced on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times Guild said young journalists of colour were “disproportionately affected” despite the Soon-Shiong family’s public commitment in 2020 to diversity in staff.

Meanwhile, several LA Times journalists also criticised the job cuts as a poorly-managed process, according to a Guardian report. “The LA Times laid us off in an HR Zoom webinar with chat disabled, no q&a, no chance to ask questions,” one former news editor wrote on X, a characterisation reiterated by the union.

The layoffs appear to have affected a significant chunk of the paper’s editorial team, including journalists and editors working on more digitally-focused initiatives, such as the paper’s new “meme team” that worked on TikTok content, prominent culture writers and those leading its national political coverage. 

Among the journalists laid off were the paper’s Pulitzer awardee DC bureau chief, Kimbriell Kelly, and its deputy DC bureau chief, Nick Baumann, who received their layoff notices on Tuesday, according to Guardian.

“The economic reality of our organization is extremely challenging. Despite our owner’s willingness to continue to invest, we need to take immediate steps to improve our cash position,” Chris Argentieri, the paper’s president, reportedly wrote in an email to employees.

This report was published with AI assistance.

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