Citing a crippling loss of ad dollars due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles Times informed employees Tuesday that it will be making some painful cuts.
In an internal memo, Chris Argentieri, chief operating officer of the paper’s parent company, California Times, stated, “The decline in revenue from every area of our business is unprecedented. Due to the unexpected effects of COVID-19, our advertising revenue has nearly been eliminated.”
Argentieri added that growing digital subscriptions and other sources of revenue are “not yet enough to offset the losses. The economy is in crisis and it’s become clear that we need to make some difficult changes in order to meet this challenge.”
Those changes will come in three forms, the memo explains.
Some non-union workers on the business side of the paper will be put on unpaid leave for up to 16 weeks while maintaining their health coverage and receiving any vacation pay due starting April 19.
Senior managers in both the editorial and business sides of the Times will see pay cuts of 5 to 15 percent, depending on their annual salaries. The reductions go into effect starting April 19 and will be in place for 12 weeks, the memo states.
Lastly, the company will stop matching non-union employees’ 401k contributions. While the suspension date has not been announced, once it goes into effect it will last through the rest of the year.
While these measures don’t affect union members, the company plans to “meet with union representatives to determine any expense-saving initiatives that may be implemented, related to represented employees and existing contracts.”
The Los Angeles Times Guild said in a statement that it will hold a membership meeting on April 20 to discuss a proposal for a national stimulus program for local news.
“But make no mistake,” the union warns. “The news industry has been thrown into a crisis that is much bigger than any one newsroom or any one company. Journalism needs help, and not just in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands of local journalists across the country have lost their jobs, seen their pay slashed or been forced to temporarily stop working at the exact moment public interest in their work—and the importance of accurate information—has never been greater.”
A rep for the L.A. Times did not immediately return a call for comment.