The L.A. Times announced Tuesday it was giving pink slips to at least 115 editors, bureau chiefs and reporters after several years of financial losses.
The newspaper, which dates back to 1881, was purchased in 2018 by billionaire businessman Patrick Soon-Shiong who described big plans for the Times. His new business venture was costing him $40 million in losses a year, however, he said this week, so the decision was made to slash 20% of the newsroom.
Don Irvine, of media watchdog Accuracy in Media, tells AFN the news business has evolved over the years from three television networks to a 24-hour news network, which began with CNN but is now dominated by right-leaning Fox News.
A crowded and costly newspaper newsroom is no different, especially when it comes to dwindling ad revenues, since a morning newspaper and coffee have been replaced with scrolling on a smart phone.
“What we're seeing is something that's becoming more and more inevitable as time marches on,” he observes. “People are looking for other ways to get their news versus the old, traditional media.”
Another looming issue for journalism is liberal bias, which is not only common in the industry but a requirement to set foot in the big-city newsroom.
The liberal bias at the Times was criticized as recently as 2020. In a story for The Jewish Journal, Berkeley communications professor Dan Schnur pointed out every Times columnist is a "progressive" regardless of the beat they cover, such as politics, business, or diversity.
"I write not as a conservative crank or a resentful Republican," he wrote, "but rather as a curious centrist and registered independent who looks for smart analysis and opinions from across the ideological spectrum."
So when Times reporters ran to X, formerly Twitter, to describe the newsroom bloodbath, they found lots of mockery and no pity. In the comments, X users pointed out the newspaper has published stories about white drivers polluting Southern California, which harms minorities. The headline in a 2021 column called conservative leader Larry Elder the “black face of white supremacy” during his candidacy for governor, people pointed out. Another column published during the COVID pandemic defended gloating over dead Californians who had shrugged off the virus.
“With all the layoffs, we’re gonna miss this top-notch journalism from the LA Times,” wrote author-filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza.
Noah Goldberg, a Times reporter who escaped a pink slip, posted a photo of the emptied newsroom in a likely attempt to garner sympathy. "The LA Times newsroom today. What's missing?" he wrote.
"The communists who used to work there," wrote show host Jesse Kelly.
"Integrity," wrote another X user.
The online mockery only grew when Times journalists made race and ethnicity an issue. A now-former Times columnist named Jean Guerrero called her firing a “dark day” at the Times.
“I was the only Latina columnist for the opinion desk,” she pointed out.
A second now-former Times journalist shared the percentage of minorities, specifically blacks, Asians, and Hispanics, who had been let go this week.
In a brutal reply on X, Elder reminded Guerrero she had called him a “white supremacist” and now, he wrote, she had been “canned by the broke" Times.