L.A. Times journalists are staging a one-day walkout Friday in response to news that management is seeking a large number of layoffs — aiming for more than 100, according to the Times’ own reporting, which is approximately 20% of the newsroom. Many of those participating in the one-day strike spoke out on social media about the fight for their jobs and those of their colleagues as the organization looks to cut costs.
For those taking part, according to Times health and culture reporter Marissa Evans, walking out can also mean losing a day’s pay.
“I’m in solidarity w/ @latguild today as many of us are losing a day of pay to walk out,” Evans wrote. “We’re facing the prospect of a devastating layoff (no one is safe, including me). I’m gratified that in what could be our final weeks together we’re standing in courage to fight for @latimes.”
The Times union held an emergency meeting Thursday about the layoffs, telling members, “This is the big one.” Those walking out include senior journalists at the institution.
“I have by no measure been a union agitator, but as someone who crossed my 25-year anniversary in Sept, I need to speak out for the young reporters who can’t,” wrote Times political writer Seema Mehta.
“I love the @latimes. I have happily given it 33+ years of my life,” wrote Times enterprise reporter Jim Rainey. “But I’m walking off the job with my comrades today in hopes of saving as many jobs as possible. …And getting fair deals for those forced to leave.”
His daughter, LAist producer Libby Rainey, is among the journalists beyond the bounds of the Times. Her union, among numerous others, have announced their solidarity with the Times guild.
Watching my dad be an LA Times reporter made me want to be a journalist. Working as a journalist made me want to join a union.
I am so sad and angry for our industry, but watching my dad and his incredible colleagues at @latguild strike today makes me so proud. https://t.co/MFIvrNg1oC
— Libby Rainey (@rainey_l) January 19, 2024
The union has asked for the public to avoid engaging with the Times throughout the day, whether that be reading their stories or buying a subscription.
“Subscribe to the @latimes tomorrow; skip the site today,” wrote Times books editor Boris Kachka.
“please do not read @latimes today,” Times labor reporter Suhauna Hussain wrote. “absolutely furious that our newspaper thinks a catastrophic round of layoffs is in order and refuses to even do the humane thing and first offer buy outs.”
It’s not just Times staff speaking out, as members of Congress are also standing by the Times’ journalists.
“Last year, @latimes laid off 80 employees, a significant number of whom are people of color,” Rep. Barbara Lee wrote. “Now, @latguild is warning an even bigger layoff is imminent. I stand with journalists–who are critical to the preservation of our democracy–& urge the Times to put people over profits.”
“Good journalism is more important now than ever. And that requires adequate staffing,” Rep. Adam Schiff wrote. “We need the LAT to continue keeping our communities well-informed. We can’t let journalism die in plain view.”
“A strong Democracy needs a strong press,” wrote Rep. Robert Garcia, former Long Beach mayor. “The LA Times is critical to coverage across the state. Those of us in government may not always like everything printed in the media – and that’s the point. Robust independent reporting is critical for transparency. I stand with @latguild.”
Times internet culture and podcasting reporter Matt Pearce, who helped the outlet’s newsroom initially unionize in 2016, shared a union meme ahead of the walkout.
The protests from staff come the week after Executive Editor Kevin Merida stepped down due to frustrations over interference from owner Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Former Times journalist Carolyn Burt, who now works for the Southern California News Group, asked for people to support the Times union on its walkout — but to be sensitive to the needs of the organization to make money.
“Today is not the day to reply to their posts complaining about a paywall,” Burt wrote. “Same thing happened when @SCNGguild did our walkout. It’s weird and insensitive. Support journalists.”
Read more comments from Times journalists walking out below:
“I kept tossing and turning last night thinking about everything at stake,” writes New York City-based Times reporter Alexandra Petri. “I’m sad, angry & scared it’s come to this, but we deserve better. The communities we serve deserve better.
“LA Times management wants to lay us off, so let’s see how they manage to run a newspaper without us,” writes Times breaking news reporter Jeremy Childs.
“I’m walking out today (remotely) with my colleagues at the LA Times,” Times investigative reporter Susanne Rust wrote. “Management is threatening to eviscerate our newsroom in a manner that can only be described opaque, callous and cruel; with little concern about the communities we serve. We all deserve better.”
BREAKING: The entire Austin Bureau* of the LA Times has walked out.
*it’s just me pic.twitter.com/LtUgFxFFiy
— Jack Herrera (@jherrerx) January 19, 2024
Today the Los Angeles Times is on strike.
On this day six years ago we voted and formed our union.
What an anniversary to strike on!
— Jon Schleuss supports PittsburghPG strikers (@gaufre) January 19, 2024
WE DESERVE BETTER!! Now, we rally! pic.twitter.com/4Dr5oXCptD
— L.A. Times Guild
(@latguild) January 19, 2024
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