The Los Angeles Times headquarters in El Segundo, CA. (@Jengod on Wikipedia.) Credit: @Jengod on Wikipedia.

Tuesday saw huge staffing cuts at The Los Angeles Times, with 115 employees reportedly eliminated. Amongst those were a large number of employees who worked in sports, including Clippers beat writer Andrew Greif, Dodgers beat writer Jack Harris, Angels beat writer Sarah Valenzuela, sports culture critic Tyler R. Tynes, and sports/video game industry reporter Sarah Parvini. Here are goodbyes from those figures:

As The Sporting Tribune (which covers sports in Southern California, Las Vegas, and Hawaii) noted, the Times now is currently without beat writers for nine prominent teams in its area:

Hanaa’ Tameez wrote about these layoffs for NiemanLab, noting that this is 23 percent of the current LAT workforce, that this comes after they laid off 74 other people last June. , and that these layoffs heavily hit teams focused on attracting new and different audiences, including Latino-focused vertical De Los. Here’s more from her piece:

The layoffs followed reports that the Times lost “$30 million to $40 million” last year. Earlier this month, executive editor Kevin Merida stepped down. Managing editors Sara Yasin and Shani Hilton have also left. On January 19, the LA Times Guild staged the first-ever work stoppage in the paper’s history to protest the coming layoffs. Nearly 90% of guild members walked off the job that day, according to the Guild’s Twitter.

The cuts include innovative initiatives that Nieman Lab has covered in the past, like Latino-focused vertical De Los and the 404 “meme team”. Both projects aimed to attract new and younger audiences.

…Among the layoffs: three De Los reporters, a De Los assistant editora De Los culture columnist, a congressional reporter based in Washington, D.C., the Washington, D.C. bureau chief, the deputy D.C. bureau chief, a White House reporter, a national correspondent, a technology and entertainment policy reporter, an investigative reportertwo multiplatform newsletters editors, a multiplatform editor for news aggregatorstwo breaking news reporters, a breaking news editor, a breaking entertainment reportertwo members of the 404 “meme team,” a travel reporter, a West Coast Experiences reporter, a music editor, a music reporter, an Orange County reporter, an Asian American communities reporter, a business editor, a deputy business editor, a business reporter, an opinion columnist, a tech columnist, a Hollywood reporter, an audience engagement editor on the food desk, a food columnist and video producer, an artificial intelligence reporter, a books editor, a video producer, a video game industry reporter, a Dodgers beat writer, a sports culture critic, an Angels beat writer, and an entertainment reporter.

The newspaper’s union, the L.A. Times Guild, put out a statement saying management did not offer buyouts (“a far more humane way to make cuts”) instead of layoffs:

Chris Argentieri, Times president and chief operating officer, said in an internal memo (relayed by one of the paper’s top media journalists, Meg James), that the cuts were initially planned to impact even more positions:

“The economic reality of our organization is extremely challenging,” Chris Argentieri, The Times’ president and chief operating officer, said in a memo distributed to staff, announcing the layoffs. “Despite our owner’s willingness to continue to invest, we need to take immediate steps to improve our cash position.”

…While severe, Argentieri said in his memo that initial plans were to lay off even more staff members. “After consulting with our editorial leaders and ownership, the Company scaled back the number of affected employees,” Argentieri wrote.

Matt Pearce, a Times reporter and president of the Media Guild of the West (which includes the L.A. Times Guild), discussed the number of union positions hit here on Twitter/X, and said those were lowered because of the union’s one-day strike last week:

But these are still devastating cuts at the Times, including in the sports department. And that guild statement is notable on many fronts, including the note about how no newsroom leader has been named since executive editor Kevin Merida (a former ESPN executive) exited last week. “This staffing cut is the fruit of years of middling strategy, the absence of a publisher, and no clear direction. It is still unclear who is in charge of our newsroom more than a week after our executive editor resigned.” None of that is good.

As per ownership comment, paper owner (and billionaire) Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong did have some things to say on this to James. Here are some of his comments from her article:

The cuts were necessary because the paper could no longer lose $30 million to $40 million a year without making progress toward building higher readership that would bring in advertising and subscriptions to sustain the organization, the paper’s owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, said Tuesday.

Drastic changes were needed, he said, including installing new leaders who would focus on strengthening the outlet’s journalism to become indispensable to more readers.

“Today’s decision is painful for all, but it is imperative that we act urgently and take steps to build a sustainable and thriving paper for the next generation. We are committed to doing so,” Soon-Shiong said.

…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 last Friday, which, he said during an interview, “did not help.”

…Soon-Shiong also pushed back on the narrative that The Times was in turmoil.

“We are not in turmoil. We have a real plan,” he said.

We’ll see just what that plan is. But this is certainly a dark day for the Times.

[NiemanLab]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.