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New York Daily News slashes newsroom staffing in half and ousts top editors

New York Daily News staff photographers Todd Maisel, left, and Andrew Savulich walk out of the daily
New York Daily News staff photographers Todd Maisel, left, and Andrew Savulich walk out of the newspaper’s office Monday after being laid off.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

The New York tabloid Daily News cut half of its newsroom staff Monday, including the editor in chief.

The paper was sold to Chicago Tribune owner Tronc Inc. last year for $1, with the buyer assuming liabilities and debt.

In an email sent to staff Monday, Tronc said the remaining staff at the Daily News will focus on breaking news involving “crime, civil justice and public responsibility.”

The newspaper has been a key fixture in New York City for the last century. It has won 11 Pulitzer Prizes, including last year for its work with ProPublica on the abuse of eviction rules in New York City.

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There had been reports that the cuts were coming, and an early-morning tweet from editor in chief Jim Rich hinted at what was to come.

“If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you,” Rich wrote.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged Tronc to reconsider the layoffs, saying they were made without notifying the state or asking for assistance.

“I urge Tronc to reconsider this drastic move and stand ready to work with them to avert this disaster,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I understand that large corporations often only see profit and dividends as a bottom line. But in New York, we also calculate loss of an important institution, loss of jobs, and the impact on the families affected. I hope Tronc does the same and recalculates its decision. New York state stands ready to help.”

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Revenue and print circulation have been sliding at the newspaper for years, even as it provided crucial coverage of health issues in public housing and for first responders after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Revenue slid 22% between 2014 and 2016, and the paper had already been letting people go. Tronc declined to say how many journalists lost their jobs Monday.

“Since the year began, we’ve worked hard to transform the New York Daily News into a truly digitally-focused enterprise — one that creates meaningful journalism, delivers it more quickly and more frequently, and develops new approaches to engage our readers,” an email sent to staff said. “We’ve gained a deeper understanding of our readership. We’ve redefined our structures. But we have not gone far enough.”

Along with Rich, Managing Editor Kristen Lee was included in the layoffs.

Robert York, editor of the Tronc-owned Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., will take over as editor of the Daily News.

Tronc Inc., based in Chicago, owns the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel and other media operations. Its shares slipped 0.6% on Monday to $16.10. The stock is down 8.5% so far this year.

Tronc recently sold the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune and other properties to biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.


UPDATES:

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2 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the Daily News’ laid-off editor in chief Jim Rich and from New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Tronc’s stock movement and additional background information.

This article was originally published at 9:30 a.m.


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