Los Angeles Times to add a section and close Orange County printing operations

The Los Angeles Times is closing its printing operations in Orange County to cut costs and will begin publishing a new section devoted to late-breaking news, the paper announced Thursday.

In a memo to employees, Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein said the paper would generate “substantial savings” by consolidating its printing operations at one facility in downtown Los Angeles.

Times changes: A story in the Business section Friday about changes at The Times said the North Hollywood shootout occurred in 1998. It occurred in 1997. —

“All of our efforts are being done with a keen eye toward limiting personnel loss throughout the company, while maintaining and growing other areas of the business,” Hartenstein wrote.

To accommodate earlier deadlines necessitated by the elimination of the plant, the paper will launch a section dubbed LATExtra to run late-breaking news that was previously published in individual sections. LATExtra will appear Monday through Saturday, beginning Feb. 2, according to the memo.

The changes “give us the opportunity to expand and further showcase the terrific enterprise reporting of this newsroom, as well as produce the first new news section in many, many years,” Times Editor Russ Stanton said in a memo to the newsroom.

Stanton named Joe Eckdahl, the paper’s senior editor/Page One, editor of the new section.

Eckdahl joined The Times in 1993 and was executive news editor of two editions, sharing the paper’s Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of the 1998 North Hollywood shootout and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Since 1997, the USC School of Cinema graduate, who began his newspaper career with the Hollywood Reporter, has held a variety of positions on The Times’ front page, including A1 senior editor.

Times editorial, advertising and circulation offices and the Times Community Newspapers will continue to operate out of the Orange County facility in Costa Mesa. But the closing of the printing plant will result in the layoffs of about 80 pressroom employees there.

In another cost-saving measure, the paper will eliminate the stand-alone Business section on Mondays. Business-oriented stories will appear inside the main news section that day.

The Food section will move to Thursdays to be available to weekend subscribers and to boost revenue from restaurant advertising and other sources.

As part of the changes, the width of the paper will be reduced to 44 inches from 48 inches -- a standard being adopted by newspapers across the country.