Publisher, 20 others laid off at Daily News

Times Staff Writer

The company that publishes the Los Angeles Daily News laid off Publisher Tracy Rafter and 20 other employees Monday.

Although the Los Angeles Newspaper Group did not publicly announce the changes at the San Fernando Valley-based paper, employees said the cuts were described as a streamlining move.

Rafter was replaced by John C. McKeon, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, which owns the Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and six other Southern California newspapers. It is the local arm of privately held MediaNews Group Inc. of Denver, controlled by William Dean Singleton.


Singleton is known as a resolute cost cutter who likes to own papers in clusters so that he can combine reporting, advertising and printing operations.

MediaNews is believed to be close to a deal to buy another suburban Los Angeles paper, the South Bay Daily Breeze, now owned by the Copley chain.

At the Daily News, four jobs will be lost in the newsroom and several other reductions will come from the management ranks. The paper’s union represented 110 non-management employees before the layoffs.

Although employees were saddened by Monday’s action at the 151,000-circulation paper, they had feared much worse -- perhaps the loss of one-fifth of newsroom staff. Early this month, speculation had swirled in the newsroom that Rafter and Editor Ron Kaye would be ousted for resisting cuts.

“I don’t think anyone is happy about this,” said Brent Hopkins, a general assignment reporter and union shop steward. “But ... they didn’t just slash and burn.”

McKeon and Rafter could not be reached. Kaye told his staff that he planned to stay on the job.