Blood, meet stone – L.A. Times laying off 75

If what LAObserved says is correct, everyone’s (least-)favorite media vandal Sam Zell is currently kicking 75 more people off the already-decimated staff of the Los Angeles Times.

Among those, apparently, is Leo Wolinsky, the former managing editor, who I believe started there as a copy boy more than a couple decades ago. If I find out any more names from sources inside, I’ll pass them on.

At this point, you gotta wonder what the hell Zell’s up to: He’s been methodically stripping away the only product of unique value the paper has to offer against the internet – its journalism, without addressing the real root of the problem: They’re an information company in a digital age blowing thousands of dollars a day on putting yesterday’s news on dead trees.

Content’s been getting thinner every year due to the shrinking news-hole caused by the die-off of the print-ad market, and now that syndicated content seems to be flowing through Times pages in greater quantity, it’s ceasing to look so much like the flagship of west-coast journalism it was in the 80s and 90s …

It’s pretty plain Zell couldn’t give a pressman’s fuck about the product, let alone the audience he’s alienating at warp speed.

So does he even have a strategy? If it’s all about the bottom line, when’s he gonna quit bleeding the place and do the right thing – sell it to (if they’ll have it) Eli Broad, David Geffen, or any of a number of suitors who’ve waived good money and good intentions at the Times over the years?

Update: A source inside the building says it’ll be 25 to 75 layoffs, and the victims will be told next week. This is, of course, bulldozing whatever morale has survived so far.

(h/t: Ed Padgett)

3 Replies to “Blood, meet stone – L.A. Times laying off 75”

  1. It’s not a case of liking/disliking journalism. It’s just not relevant to trying to make a buck. There are sincere efforts being made to reinvest and reinvent there, but these latest cuts are not going to help. Which is sad, because a great, almost universally recognized brand is being slowly asphyxiated. There is still time to use what market position the Times possesses to turn things around, but the sands are trickling through the hourglass like … well not like the days of our lives, but I was thinking a bit of the scene from Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy (the LA Times staff) was stuck in the room with the hourglass.

    And no, Zell is not the Wicked Witch.

    Flying monkey, maybe.

  2. I think asphyxiation is a rather kind choice of metaphor for the rampant slash-and-burn strategy Zell’s following. And I think eecue’s right – if you don’t like journalism, or at least don’t care about it – then it’s just another cost, like the mail room or the pension fund.

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