Times is expected to cut 5% of staff

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Times is expected to announce Monday a plan to cut about 5% of its workforce, or approximately 150 jobs, as profits at the newspaper and its Chicago-based parent company continue to slide.

Times executives said they expected most of the cuts, including nearly 70 newsroom positions, to come through voluntary buyouts. After the reductions, the newspaper would have about 2,625 employees. The news staff would shrink to about 850 people from 920.

Job reductions have been widely anticipated since last fall, when Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson and Editor Dean Baquet resisted editorial-staff cuts demanded by Tribune Co., The Times' Chicago-based parent. Both executives left the paper in the highly publicized dispute.

Nothing in Tribune's financial results this week alleviated concerns about the decline in revenue. The company's operating cash flow for the first quarter of 2007 was down 12% to $238 million from $271 million in the same period last year, while operating profit declined 16% to $181 million from $217 million.

Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell agreed this month to take Tribune private, but the complex deal requires regulatory and shareholder approvals before it becomes final. That process is expected to take until the end of the year.

Analysts have said that the media company, which owns KTLA Channel 5, 22 other television stations and 10 other daily newspapers, will need to maintain high cash flow to pay off more than $8.2 billion in new debt Zell is using to take the company private.

With revenue declining, many employees fear that the only way to sustain cash flow will be with further job reductions.

The Chicago Tribune reported Friday that management of that paper planned to cut about 100 jobs through buyouts.

james.rainey@latimes.com

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