The New York Daily News started its week out with a bang, announcing Monday that it was cutting its newsroom staff in half. The cuts include editor-in-chief Jim Rich and managing editor Kristen Lee, reports the Chicago Tribune. Staff were notified by Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn via email that the newspaper would focus on breaking news, specifically news related to crime, civil justice and public responsibility. It is estimated that the Daily News has about 85 staff, says USA Today. Tronc purchased the New York tabloid newspaper last year for $1.
“The Daily News is unique in that local leadership determined a complete redesign of its structure was needed post-acquisition,” wrote Dearborn, according to a CNN report. ‘We do not expect reductions of this scale in any of our other newsrooms.”
Dearborn added that other Tronc-owned newsrooms and business units would also be implementing staff reductions this week to cut costs.
“As a public company, we have a fiduciary obligation to balance the interests of all of our constituents: shareholders, employees, readers and community.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo responded to news of the layoffs at a press conference, aired by ABC7 in New York.
“I was shocked that the layoffs happened. I was shocked that the layoffs happened without even any notice. Normally, if a corporation has to do something like this, they contact the state and say, ‘this is the situation we have.’ I assume it was a financial problem,” Cuomo said.
The governor said he contacted Tronc and offered the state’s assistance, comparing it to a similar situation with the New York Post the state helped in the past.
“These are important jobs. The Daily News is an important institution, not just for New York, not just a big business in New York but it’s also vital to the press corps and it’s a national publication,” said Cuomo. “I don’t know why they did it. I think the way they did it, without even talking to the state and asking for assistance, was just plain wrong.”
A number of Daily News readers commented on the layoffs, some citing the newspaper’s politics for its decline. Another reader said the newspaper has reduced its content in recent weeks:
Another indicated he was canceling his online and print subscription.
The Tronc’s news release page does not show that any official statements have been released by the company. The last news releases about business operations are a June 18 news release announcing the closing of the sale of the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune to Nant Capital LLC and a May 29 news release about Tronc’s acquisition of the Virginian-Pilot.
While the Daily News is only one segment of Tronc’s business, the company continues to be volatile and unpredictable with management changes, ownership changes, sales and acquisitions. These cuts represent a major change to the Daily News’ business model and operations, but cuts in other business segments and properties indicate that Tronc is in trouble financially and/or shifting gears and reprioritizing its assets and strategy.