New York Daily News layoffs hit huge swath of staffers

The New York Daily News laid off half its newsroom staff on Monday, marking the latest round of cuts at the beleaguered Tronc company’s media holdings.

Word of layoffs at the paper, known for its ruthless and splashy front pages, began circulating on Thursday, when sources familiar with the matter said sweeping job cuts were coming.

“We are fundamentally restructuring the Daily News,” an email from Tronc to staff reads. “We are reducing today the size of the editorial team by approximately 50 percent and re-focusing much of our talent on breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility.” The notice said human resources would notify those affected by day’s end.

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Tronc on Sunday sent an email to staff telling them to “plan to be in the New York newsroom on Monday at 9 a.m. for an important message from Grant Whitmore,” the general manager of Tronc’s eastern region.

Prior to announcing the layoffs on Monday, Whitmore held a “30-second meeting” with the staff in which he said, “Bear with us, today will be difficult,” according to a source in the newsroom.

“We’ve had a feeling something would happen,” a news staffer told HuffPost when the rumors began to spread. The cancellation of a scheduled large event with interns also set off red flags.

After Tronc purchased the financially troubled daily last summer for a mere $1, it began a restructuring that eliminated many New York-based positions and centralized some roles in Tronc’s Chicago headquarters. The New York paper also was hit with a sexual harassment scandal in February that saw two of its top editors fired.

Editor in chief Jim Rich and managing editor Kristen Lee were among those leaving.

Rich on Thursday declined to comment about the expected layoffs. At the time, rumors swirled that Rich, who formerly served as HuffPost’s executive editor, was in the process of resigning or may have already quit. Early Monday, Rich tweeted that “today was a good day” for those who “hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked.”

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The Daily News, which has won 11 Pulitzer Prizes in its 99 years of existence, has seen the same ups and downs that have plagued much of the newspaper industry over the past few decades. It was rescued from bankruptcy in 1993 and nearly went under, and in 2016, saw its print circulation drop significantly.

It changed direction and dedicated itself to digital news, making it a Top 10 publisher as recently as 2016. But it has downsized substantially over the years, sustaining major layoffs in 2013, 2014 and even earlier this year, when 21 people ― mostly production workers ― were let go.

In April, Tronc fired its Los Angeles Times editor in chief, Lewis D’Vorkin, and laid off several dozen as the newsroom staff unionized. Tronc recently sold the L.A. Times to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a biotech billionaire, for $500 million, along with several smaller California newspapers.

Rounds of layoffs in March also hit The Chicago Tribune, a flagship Tronc property.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.