The Media is Dying—Los Angeles Edition
You know that saying, "You can't squeeze blood from a stone"? Well, apparently, you can. The Tribune Company has had yet another round of layoffs.
Last week, the L.A. Times cut 300 positions and consolidated sections. The paper, which decided to put more of an emphasis on the local reporting, is now seeing that suffer, too, as California pages are going to be merged with the main news.
Reports the Times on its own demise, which must be sort of like stabbing yourself in the gut: "The layoffs announced Friday at The Times are the fourth round of staff cutbacks at the paper in the last 12 months and represent an 11% reduction in its current newsroom staff of around 650. At its peak in 2001, The Times newsroom had 1,200 employees."
According to media watchdog site, LA Observed, the foreign bureaus in Tokyo, Paris, and Rome were already listed as vacant, prior to this round, but now it's even worse: with reporters either going freelance or returning to LA from posts in Jerusalem, Bogota, and the Middle East.
But the Times layoffs are just the tip of the iceberg. There's been so much more bloodshed.
To review: The Variety layoffs in January felled 30 people, including some big guns such as columnist, Anne Thompson.
The Variety firings were preceded by layoffs at its rival, the Hollywood Reporter in December, with more than a dozen staffers getting laid off.
Local rag, The LA Daily News also took a hit: 22 people were axed Friday.
That's just the print industry: TV and radio and film people are hurting, too.
New York-based Univision, the country's largest Spanish language cable channel slashed 300 jobs. The company owns KMEX-TV in L.A., but it was not clear who got hit locally.
Over at CBS, veteran Los Angeles news anchors, Ann Martin and Harold Green found themselves joining the unemployed masses. 160 employees were laid off from 13 cities.
Film L.A. Inc. reports that the number of on-location feature film production hit a record low. From their press release: "Total permitted days of on-location filming* coordinated by FilmL.A. decreased 8.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007."
The media job losses are but a drop in the bucket for California. No wonder we have the highest unemployment rate in the country: 10.1 Percent. Think about that. One in ten people are out of work.
Reports the Times: "California is hemorrhaging faster than the U.S. economy," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands."
For a full list of depressing unemployment stories go here.
To put it in perspective, a few months ago I was sending out resumes. One of them was to the Getty Museum to edit their website. A month later, I met someone who worked there. She told me not to feel too bad that I never heard back from them: The HR department had received one thousand resumes.
Lesson: I should have listened to my father and gone into "computers."
Update: LA Observed has initial report of people who are among LAT layoffs.