Monday 20 January 2020

New York’s Daily News to shed half of its newsroom staff

The newspaper will focus on breaking news ‘involving crime, civil justice and public responsibility’

Copies of the New York Daily News on a news stand (AP)
Copies of the New York Daily News on a news stand (AP) Newsdesk Newsdesk

The Daily News will cut half of its newsroom staff, saying it will focus more on digital news.

The New York-based newspaper was sold to tronc last year for one dollar, with the owner of the Chicago Tribune assuming liabilities and debt.

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

Revenue and print circulation has been sliding at the newspaper for years, even as it provided critical coverage of health issues in public housing and stories about first responders after the September 11 attacks.

The paper’s editor-in-chief Jim Rich was also laid off.

The newspaper has been a key fixture in New York City for the last century. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for its work with ProPublica on the abuse of eviction rules in New York City.

It also received a Pulitzer for raising awareness about health issues faced by emergency workers following the collapse of New York City’s twin towers following 9/11.

There had been reports that the cuts were coming, and an early-morning tweet from Mr 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,” he wrote.

New York governor Andrew M Cuomo urged tronc to reconsider the lay-offs, saying they were made without notifying the state or asking for assistance.

Mr Cuomo said: “I urge tronc to reconsider this drastic move and stand ready to work with them to avert this disaster.

“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.”

Revenue had slid by 22% between 2014 and 2016, and the paper had already been letting people go.

“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,” tronc said in an email that was sent to the newsroom.

“We’ve gained a deeper understanding of our readership. We’ve redefined our structures. But we have not gone far enough.”

Managing editor Kristen Lee was also laid off.

Robert York, editor of tronc-owned The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, will take over as editor of the Daily News.

New York attorney general Barbara Underwood said: “The reporters at the Daily News are some of the very best in the business. I am heartbroken for them today, and for New York.

“We need strong local newspapers to hold those in power to account.”

Tronc, based in Chicago, owns the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel, and other media operations.

PA Media

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