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Staff Sharply Cut at Spanish Paper; Closing Is Feared

Times Staff Writer

Noticias del Mundo, a Spanish-language daily newspaper opened in Los Angeles five years ago by a conglomerate associated with cult figure Rev. Sun Myung Moon, has laid off one-third of its staff, raising concern among employees that it may close.

The layoffs of 20 people are the result of “very reduced operating subsidies” by News World Communications, a subsidiary of Moon’s Unification Church International, according to a statement in Monday’s edition by New York-based publisher Phillip V. Sanchez. An official in Los Angeles, sales manager Amparo Gonzalez, said there are no plans to close the paper.

Local, Foreign Mix

The five-day-a-week newspaper, one of three Spanish-language dailies in Los Angeles, combines substantial local coverage with foreign coverage that reflects the conservative politics of Moon’s Unification Church.

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The cutbacks affected all departments. The staff of local reporters has been reduced from about half a dozen to two, one of them part time, officials said.

Two sources close to the paper estimated Monday that News World has spent $10 to $15 million on the Los Angeles paper since it opened.

“I think the church is tired of financially supporting the newspaper project they had originally planned,” said Rafael Prieto, former editor of the Los Angeles edition. “It looks as though they are closing down the paper, step by step.”

Columnist Octavio Costa, 74, a journalistic institution in Spanish-language media here, was one of those laid off.

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“They told me you know we have instructions to reduce to the very minimum the cost of the paper,” he said. “The truth is the paper never paid for itself. As for circulation, I don’t think they were even printing 10,000 papers. The public didn’t want to read Noticias del Mundo.”

Gonzalez asserted the paper has a paid circulation of 25,000.

Only two reporters will remain on the staff, Gonzalez said. One will work half time. “Those of us who are left will work extra hard to make sure the quality of the paper doesn’t suffer,” she said. “We are restructuring the paper, not closing it.”

When the Los Angeles edition opened five years ago, a News World official described it as “just the first step to a national newspaper in Spanish . . . a la USA Today.”

News World opened offices in other cities, but then closed them. Sanchez said in his statement Monday that the cutbacks will affect Noticias del Mundo operations across the country. He said offices will be reopened in San Francisco and New Jersey.


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