N.Y. Daily News Cuts Half Its Newsroom in Latest Tronc Move

The New York Daily News plans to cut about half its editorial staff, a drastic measure that underscores the continued challenges facing the newspaper industry.

Among the employees being laid off is Editor-in-Chief Jim Rich, who will be replaced by Robert York, the top editor at the Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, according to an unsigned memo sent to staff byTronc Inc., which owns both newspapers.

Going forward, the Daily News will focus its coverage on “breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility,” the memo said. The Daily News had about 85 newsroom employees last year, according to the New York Post.

Rich, the former editor, slammed the cuts onTwitter Monday.

“If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you,” he said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo offered to help avoid layoffs at the Daily News, calling it “one of our nation’s journalism giants.”

“I urge Tronc to reconsider this drastic move and stand ready to work with them to avert this disaster,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Tronc Cutbacks

The job cuts marked the latest round of staff reductions at newspapers owned by Tronc, formerly known as Tribune Publishing, whichbought out the Daily News less than a year ago. The Chicago Tribune went through another series of layoffs in March.

More than one-third of the largest U.S. newspapers reduced staff between January 2017 and April 2018, according to the Pew Research Center. While a few large newspapers, like the New York Times, have attracted millions of paying readers to support their business, most outlets are struggling to compete for online advertising dollars with Facebook Inc. and Google.

Meanwhile, newsprint costs have soared since last fall after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imported paper from Canada, where most publishers get their paper.

Financial Losses

In September, Tronc bought the New York Daily News, agreeing to pay $1 and assume operational and pension liabilities. The Daily News gave Tronc larger national advertising opportunities and added to its stable of newspapers in large media markets, including Chicago.

Once the home of famed columnist Jimmy Breslin, the New York Daily News has long held a tabloid rivalry with the New York Post. The Daily News, founded in 1919 by Tribune Company, won its 11th Pulitzer Prize last year and has gained attention for its provocative covers critical of Donald Trump.

But like many of its peers, the Daily News has struggled financially. The paper lost about $90 million from 2014 to 2016, according to a regulatory filing in November.

On Sunday, Daily News columnist Harry Siegel wrote that there are “just a handful of reporters” left covering public housing, schools, transportation and courts in New York after years of cuts in local news.

“We know what happens when the state stops investing the time and money to maintain things in part because few reporters, their own industry hurting, are there to keep watch,” hewrote.

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