By paulgillin | July 2, 2008 - 5:15 pm - Posted in Facebook

The Los Angeles Times will lay off 250 people, including 150 in the newsroom, in the latest round of Tribune Co. cutbacks. The layoffs have been rumored ever since Tribune Co. COO Randy Michaels singled out the paper as a trough of journalistic productivity in Tribune Co.’s portfolio. Tribune has since announced steep cuts in Hartford and Baltimore.

In contrast to layoffs at other newspapers around the country, Tribune Co. has focused the knife on editorial departments. The cuts in Hartford and Baltimore each amounted to 20% or more of the newsroom. Michaels and CEO Sam Zell have openly stated that journalist productivity, as measured in column inches,  will be one of the metrics they use to identify layoff targets. The LA Times is slashing its news staff by 150 people, or about 17%. The surviving staff of 725 is nearly 40% smaller than  it was during the boom days just before 9/11, when it employed 1,200.

In a memo to employees, Times editor Russ Stanton also outlined other planned changes, including a redesign of the newspaper and merging of the print and online news staffs. Stanton’s memo indicates that Times management is solidly lined up behind the transformation of the brand from a print to multiple media. Ed Padgett has the full text of Stanton’s memo.

Padgett also reprints an unusually upbeat and conciliatory memo from Sam Zell, whose public mood had raged from dazed to cynical recently. While this probably isn’t the last of the Tribune cuts, it may be the most painful. the LA Times has the largest newsroom and the broadest reach of any Tribune title and the industry has been waiting for the ax to fall.



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