US tabloid the New York Daily News is set to cut roughly half of its editorial staff, including its editor-in-chief and managing editor, as it moves to restructure the newspaper in the face of “significant financial challenges”.
In an announcement sent to employees today, and shared on Twitter, the paper said affected staff will be expected to leave by the end of the day.
About 40 staff will remain, Press Gazette understands, of a newsroom that once boasted upwards of 250 staff.
The paper said: “To capture the opportunities ahead and address the significant financial challenges we have faced for years, we are fundamentally restructuring the Daily News.
“We are reducing today the size of the editorial team by approximately 50 per cent and re-focusing much of our talent on breaking news – especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility.”
Bosses claimed the changes were part of an effort to “transform the New York Daily News into a truly digitally-focused enterprise”.
They emphasised that it will continue to report on local news, sports and other events, but added “our approach will evolve as we adapt to our current environment”.
The Tronc-owned publication added: “With our established digital prowess, the Daily News is in a solid position to lead Tronc’s transformation and become the newsroom of the future.
“But realising that potential requires committing to our digital audience and focusing our resources on the content and approaches that our readers find most relevant.
“I know that this is difficult news to hear and want to assure you that we are working hard to treat each employee with respect and to make the transition as smooth as possible.”
The email confirmed that those being made redundant will continue to be paid for the next 90 days and will be eligible for “transitional benefits” after that.
New York Daily News claimed that the redundancies were necessary to adapt to an “ever-changing media environment” and “are not a reflection on the significant talent that is leaving”.
Among those being made redundant are editor-in-chief Jim Rich and managing editor Kristen Lee.
Rich said on Twitter: “If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.”
He has also changed his Twitter bio, which now reads: “Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction.”
Daily News bosses said of the pair that they had “handled their responsibilities with professionalism and grace under difficult circumstances”.
Robert York, editor of the Pennsylvania-based daily newspaper the Morning Call – which is also owned by Tronc – will take over as editor-in-chief from the start of next week.
York was previously vice president of strategy and operations at the San Diego Union Tribune.
On 22 July, the day before the changes were announced, an article with the headline: “Why we need local journalism: Look around at how vulnerable we are right now,” was published on the New York Daily News website.
The article reads: “Reporting is a necessary part of a functioning state, sure, but it’s also a job, like keeping the shelves stocked. Public service, too, is a job.
“When the economics of those businesses get out of whack — often because people in power increase their share to the point where there isn’t enough left to go around — things slowly rot, and then quickly collapse.
“If there’s one lesson to take from the rise of Donald Trump, who came up out of a real-estate business here that’s designed not so much to provide shelter as to give people a place to hide and clean their cash, it’s that bad things happen when the mudthrowers outpace the muckrakers.”
Former Daily News editor-in-chief Kevin Convey was quoted on Twitter as having said: “Today’s layoff of half of the Daily News’ already decimated staff is yet another approach the flight of their customers to mobile and digital.
“The long-term inability of the paper to construct a workable business model in the digital age has caused it to fall well behind its tabloid rival, the New York Post, a position that will only worsen with today’s cuts.”
He told the website the restructure could leave as few as 40 journalists to cover New York City and that this “can also be viewed as an admission of failure by Tronc”, which bought the newspaper in September last year.
He added: “Today’s cuts are a tragedy for all the staffers who have worked their hearts out to keep the paper going despite little support from headquarters, and for the citizens of New York, who will suffer the consequences as a treasured journalistic voice slowly grows silent”.
Tronc is a contraction of the Tribune Online Content.
The New York Daily News is one of several Tronc-owned papers whose websites are unavailable in the UK since GDPR regulation came into force in Europe in late May. Tronc has said it is “committed to looking at options” to make the websites accessible to readers in Europe again.