David Dodd 1:48 a.m., May 18
Arizona Daily Star Layoffs Cast Long Shadow Over North County Times
The blogosphere is full of rumors of a soon-to-come avalanche of newspaper layoffs and one actual report of real firings today, all of which may offer clues to the future of newspapers in southern California, including San Diego county.
L.A. Observed reported today that the L.A. Times, with the bankruptcy proceedings of Tribune Co., its owner, wrapping up, may be on the market and ready to cut staff.
Also today, the online Tucson Sentinel is reporting that the Arizona Daily Star, also of Tucson, is laying off up to 40 workers.
The Daily Star is owned by Lee Enterprises, which also owns the Escondido-based North County Times.
"As many as 15 newsroom employees and many employees in the advertising, circulation, finance, and IT departments were also reportedly let go.
"It's not yet clear how many total employees were let go, but initial reports point to about 40 from the newspaper who had to pack their working lives into cardboard boxes."
"Lee is widely thought to be on the verge of bankruptcy. The decline in newspaper circulation in recent years, and the company's crushing $1.1 billion debt from its purchase of the Pulitzer chain (which brought it the Star), have pushed Lee to cut costs.
"In May, the company backed away from a plan to refinance the debt, which comes due in April 2012, after investors failed to bite. Lee stock has dropped by 70 percent in the last few months, and is now under a dollar."