The Los Angeles Times’ parent company, California Times, is folding three award-winning community newspapers that serve the cities of Burbank, Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge.
Fourteen staff members learned Thursday that they were being laid off with severance. Ten are members of the Los Angeles Times Guild.
The decision comes as The Times, and other news organizations, grapple with staggering losses in advertising revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic and local stay-at-home orders. Advertisers have withdrawn their advertising buys, forcing publishers to make cuts to their businesses.
The La Cañada Valley Sun sets April 23, with its final issue.
The three community papers were an attempt to serve readers with intensely local coverage: information about city councils, school boards and high school sports relevant primarily to their particular corners of a sprawling metropolis.
But the papers had a rich history of their own. The Burbank Leader was founded in 1985, a successor to the Burbank Daily Review, which was founded in 1908. The Glendale News-Press dated back to 1905. The La Cañada Valley Sun sprang to life in 1946, helping usher in Southern California’s postwar building and population boom.
The publications each have won multiple awards from the California Newspapers Publishers Assn., the Los Angeles Press Club and other organizations.
U.S. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) said Friday that he was “saddened” by the closure of his hometown paper.
“I have read these papers for decades and had the privilege of working with many of their reporters and editors,” Schiff said in a statement. “And while I’m sure I took issue with some of their articles from time to time — as it should be — I never once doubted their skill and professionalism, or their passion for serving our community. Whether it was uncovering wrong-doing or profiling one of our amazing residents or documenting our community coming together, you could be certain these papers would be there.”
The Los Angeles Times purchased the News-Press and Leader in 1993 and the Valley Sun in 2005. The papers, which became part of The Times Community News division, were inserted into The Times and also distributed free at businesses and in newspaper racks.
The Los Angeles Times will continue to circulate in Glendale, Burbank and La Cañada Flintridge, and the plan is for the Metro staff, which has grown since The Times came under local ownership in 2018, to cover larger news stories in those areas.
“This was a difficult business decision in a trying time for community newspapers compounded by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic,” California Times said in a note to readers. “The three titles, while journalistically sound, are operating at significant losses.”
In recent years, advertising has fallen off as businesses look to the internet to search for customers. The company produced about 5,000 copies of each paper each week.
The community papers’ work will be archived at latimes.com.