Times are tough for the LA Times as Russ Stanton, who has been editor of the paper for the past four years, is standing down amidst the expectation of more job cuts.
Stanton leaves the news organisation on December 23rd and will be replaced by managing editor Davan Maharaj.
The LA Times published a positive review of Stanton's achievements with the paper, noting that under his leadership the paper extended its digital reach to over 17 million readers and won three Pulitzer Prizes.
Yet the LA Times acknowledges that the past four years have been a rocky period, citing problems caused by contracting newspaper circulation and shrinking advertising revenue. The New York Times provides some sobering statistics: the American newspaper industry saw a 26.2% drop in advertising revenue from 2008 to 2009 and an additional 4.6% decline last year.
During Stanton's time as editor, the paper's newsroom was cut down from 900 people to around 550. The New York Times notes the resentment this caused among some former employees, quoting Tim Rutten, who worked at the LA Times for almost 40 years before being made redundant. "Given the damage [Stanton] did to the paper, it's hard to regret his removal," Rutten said. Yet the NYT suggests that Stanton himself was also unhappy about the job cuts. The paper quotes an anonymous former senior editor, who said that Stanton had told friends "he just didn't have anymore layoffs in him".
The Wrap, an online news organisation covering media and entertainment business, paints a dark picture. An article by Lucas Shaw notes that Stanton is the fourth consecutive editor to stand down after demands for cuts.
Shaw quotes an anonymous source, who says that up to 20 newsroom staff may be made redundant in the new year. The LA Times is said to have made an internal announcement that the copy, design and web production departments will be reduced. Other sections could be cut and merged including Travel, Home, Image, Food and Books
The LA Times, which is the fifth most widely circulated newspaper in the US and the biggest paper in the Los Angeles area, has seen a 21% decline in circulation since March 2009. It has some plans to recuperate revenue, including the possible launch of a paywall in 2012 and the release of a tablet to compete with the iPad or Kindle.
Still it's financial situation looks difficult as its parent company, Tribune, which also owns the Chicago Tribune, is still involved in bankruptcy proceedings that began in 2008.
The LA Times's new editor Maharaj is quoted by the paper sounding bold in the face of adversity: "We will continue to push forward, especially in the digital and mobile space. Our commitment to delivering high-quality journalism remains unwavering."
It seems set to be a tough job.