Media Insider: Crushing Layoffs at The Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated, and More

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.

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Los Angeles Times slashes more than 20% of newsroom staff as the paper confronts a ‘financial crisis’
CNN | Oliver Darcy

The Los Angeles Times announced severe cuts on Tuesday, one of the largest rounds of layoffs in the paper’s 142-year history. At least 115 journalists, more than 20% of the newsroom, were told they were being laid off via a Zoom call. The newspaper’s Washington bureau and business and sports desks were hit especially hard. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of The Times, told the paper’s media reporter Meg James that the cuts were necessary as the newspaper continues to lose $30 to $40 million each year. News of the layoffs follows the sudden exit of The Times’ top editor, Kevin Merida, and members of the interim leadership team in recent weeks. Brian Merchant, a Times tech columnist who was notified that he was being laid off, described the cuts as “a bloodbath.”

It was an especially tough week for the media, as TIME, Business Insider, and National Geographic also announced layoffs.

Sports Illustrated Thrown Into Chaos With Mass Layoffs
The New York Times | Kevin Draper, Benjamin Mullin

Several days before the L.A. Times cuts made headlines, the media world was stunned when Sports Illustrated publisher Arena Group announced that nearly the entire magazine staff was being laid off. While some staffers were cut immediately, others were told that they would keep their jobs for at least 90 days. Sports Illustrated has struggled for years as it worked to adapt to the digital media world, dealt with a shrinking newsroom, and operated under a complicated management structure since being acquired by Authentic Brands Group several years ago. Rachael Fink, an Arena Group spokeswoman, said of the negotiations between Arena Group and Authentic Brands Group, “We hope to be the company to take SI forward but if not, we are confident that someone will.” The future of Sports Illustrated is unclear, but even if the magazine does survive, it will clearly not be the same.

Read next: To secure its future in streaming, ESPN is approaching major sports leagues about buying a stake in the company, raising big conflict of interest questions.

G/O Media Hangs ‘For Sale’ Sign Across Its Portfolio
Adweek | Mark Stenberg

G/O Media, which includes publishers Deadspin, Quartz, Kotaku, The Root, The Onion, and Gizmodo, is pivoting from its search for a buyer for the full portfolio of brands. It’s now seeking out buyers for individual titles as it plans for another challenging year for the media. “It’s fair to say they’re looking to divest,” according to a source. “I think it speaks to the broader market. There is not that much positivity about the future of publishing, so they’re trying to extract as much value as possible.” It’s been a rough few years for the digital media company, which has seen traffic across its sites fall from 33 million unique visitors in December 2019 to 21 million in December 2023, according to Comscore. It’s also dealt with high turnover and culture clashes around its return-to-office policies.

Read next: Nonprofit newsroom The 19th launched The 19th News Network, “a collective of national, regional and local publishers seeking to advance racial and gender equity in politics and policy journalism.”

Condé Nast union workers walk out following layoff announcement
Axios | Sara Fischer

Roughly 400 unionized staffers at Condé Nast brands – including Vogue, GQ, and Vanity Fair – walked off the job this week after the company said it would lay off approximately 5% of its staff, or roughly 300 people. The picket line outside the company’s offices in New York Tuesday featured “an Oscars-nomination-style treatment with a red carpet, ‘step and repeat’ and more” to serve as a reminder of the value of journalists’ work covering Hollywood, the union said. The union has been bargaining its first contract since certification in September 2022 and said that “any changes to working conditions, including layoffs, must be negotiated.”

Read next: This week also saw walkouts at Forbes, New York Daily News, and San Antonio Report Union. Also, about 50 Texas Tribune staffers have moved to form a “wall to wall” union.

Gallup survey finds Democrats are losing faith in journalists
Semafor | Caroline Anders

A new Gallup survey found that as of last year, just 34% of Democrats view journalists as having “high” or “very high” honesty and ethical standards. While that number for Democrats has been on a steady decline since its peak of 54% in 2018, Republicans’ faith in reporters actually increased, increasing from 5% in 2020 to 8% last year. For Independents, their faith in journalists has also declined, from a peak of 31% in 2018 to just 17% in 2023.

Read next: Politico senior media writer Jack Shafer looks at the staying power of cable news, which attracts an audience of key importance during an election year: older voters.

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Rocky Parker is the Manager of Audience and Journalist Engagement at Cision PR Newswire. She's been with the company since 2010 and has worked with journalists and bloggers as well as PR and comms professionals. Outside of work, she can be found trying a new recipe, binging a new show, or cuddling with her pitbull, Hudson.

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