LA Times says ad revenue ‘nearly eliminated’ as it furloughs workers

The Los Angeles Times, claiming “advertising revenue has been nearly eliminated” because of the coronavirus, said it will furlough business-side employees and slash pay for senior executives by 5 percent to 15 percent.

The furloughs are slated to start April 19 and will last up to 16 weeks, according to a memo from the newspaper’s president, Chris Argentieri. The company said it will also suspend 401(k) contributions for non-union employees.

The cuts so far do not include the 600 rank-and-file editorial types which unionized with the News Guild and hammered out its first-ever contract at the paper only last October. The Guild said in a Twitter post that it was “troubled” by the cuts on the business side and planned to meet with management soon to “urge full support for our operations during this global emergency.”

Argentieri in a memo to employees Tuesday wrote, “Due to the unexpected effects of COVID-19, our advertising revenue has nearly been eliminated. While we’ve made significant progress in growing our digital subscriber base and developing other sources of revenue, it is not yet enough to offset the losses. The economy is in crisis and it’s become clear that we need to make some difficult changes in order to meet this challenge.”

Health care billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong purchased the LA Times and the San Diego Union Tribune from Tribune Publishing for $500 million in June 2018. He moved the corporate headquarters from downtown LA and ramped up hiring on the editorial side.

But in February before the coronavirus hit, the company had offered voluntary buyouts to any employee with more than two years on the job.