On Monday, half of the New York Daily News' editorial staff was laid-off by its management, Chicago-based Tronc. Now the NY Post reports that while 45 journalists lost their jobs, a total of 93 employees were terminated company-wide.
According to the Post's Keith Kelly:
On top of the nearly four dozen reporters, editors and photographers laid off beginning on Monday, the paper’s parent company, Tronc, cut loose dozens of other employees — perhaps back-office staff — according to a filing with the state Labor Dept., publicly disclosed on July 25.
The filing, called a WARN notice, is required whenever a New York employer with more than 100 persons on the payroll makes wholesale cuts. The Tronc WARN notice was quietly filed on July 23 after Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the Chicago-based company for not reaching out for help in the days leading up to the bloodbath.
Among the editorial staff that were dismissed: Editor-in-chief Jim Rich; managing editor Kristen Lee; politics editor Dareh Gregorian; reporters Erin Durkin, Edgar Sandoval, Christina Carrega, Chelsia Rose Macius, Victoria Bekiempis; most of its sports desk, including Nicholas Parco and Knicks reporter Frank Isola (a thorn in James Dolan's side); its entire photography desk, including photographers Anthony DelMundo Todd Maisel and assignment editor Reggie Lewis; its entire social media team; director of content Daniel Johnson-Kim; copy chief Jon Blackwell; and breaking news editor Zach Haberman.
Tronc, which acquired the Daily News in September, promised that the paper would refocus on breaking news, but as an employee told Gothamist on Monday, "Tronc says they want to focus on breaking news, and then they lay off the guy in charge of breaking news!"
After the layoffs was announced, Robert York, the incoming editor-in-chief, spoke to Gothamist from Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he is publisher and editor of Tronc's The Morning Call. "I need to regroup and figure this out because there was a timing sequence to this that's now not being adhered to, in terms of the announcement," he said by telephone.
York appeared at the Daily News' offices on Tuesday, and apparently asked staff to stay and give him 30 days to "demonstrate that he is taking the publication in the right direction," according to CNN. Staffers told the Daily Beast that York was asking for 30 days to develop an editorial strategy, "I would’ve thought we’d have had a strategy, and then we would’ve made decisions based on how to carry out that strategy."
Also present was Tronc executive Grant Whitmore, who, per the Daily Beast, called it "one of the hardest days of my career," but also blamed it on the difficult economics of the newspaper industry, "Ongoing incremental cost cuts to this or that part of the business were simply not going to get to that. These were unbelievably difficult decisions, and I understand that I bear the responsibility for making them." He also allegedly said, "The road to success is never straight" and the team "needs to “pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off."
A News employee gave more color about the Monday layoffs in an interview with Digiday:
We all got emails Sunday afternoon asking us to come in for a 9 a.m. Monday meeting. That sounded alarm bells right away. About five to 9, they told us to check our emails and over the course of two hours, groups of 10 to 15 people got called to meet in various conference rooms — the Bronx conference room, the Staten Island conference room, the Big Apple. The HR rep started to read from the wrong piece of paper, saying, “Unfortunately you’re here today…” and then said, “Sorry, sorry, all your positions are safe.” Some of the people laid off were with the company 25 years, and it was just so disrespectful. So many people deserved a big send-off, and there was no time to even process it. It was traumatic. Everyone was crying. Even if you’re spared, there’s no sense of release. I was almost disappointed I didn’t get laid off.
Notably, Tronc's former chairman Michael Ferro got a $15 million payout (or $5 million a year for 2018, 2019, and 2020) after making a round of cuts last year. After Tronc sold the LA Times to a local billionaire in March, Ferro stepped down—and then Fortune reported that two women had accused Ferro of unwanted advances.
As Daily News columnist S.E. Cupp noted in her column today, "[T]he Pew Research Center published a new report on newspaper layoffs. More than one-third of U.S. newspapers had at least one round of layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018."
The Economic Hardship Project has announced a $10,000 fund for laid-off News reporters:
We have established a fund of up to $10,000 that will enable reporters just laid off by The New York Daily News to write substantial stories about economic inequality.
This is in response to the 50 percent layoffs of editorial staff. Apply: https://t.co/2nNItM9U5s pic.twitter.com/tujNBr7wyp
— EHRP (@econhardship) July 24, 2018