LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Times is to implement a severe cost-cutting program in response to a difficult newspaper advertising market. The news organization is to slash staff numbers, with around 250 people leaving the Times Mirror owned daily.
Further cutbacks are to be announced at the end of the year. The editorial and operations departments will lose around 50 staff, though the PR department won't be affected.
Kathryn Downing, president and chief executive of the LA Times, said: 'National and classified ad revenues are not growing at the rates we anticipated; we have a substantial third-quarter operating profit decline compared to last year.'
The paper also plans to contract an outside firm to deal with customer service calls.
Despite falling ad revenues, circulation has been successfully boosted.
A national edition was launched in October 1998, serving readers in New York and Washington.
Separately, the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) gave preliminary approval for a change to the way papers calculate distribution figures.
ABC members, including newspapers and advertisers, have proposed that non-full-price copies be included in total distribution figures. This will allow newspapers to include discount copies in their final figures.
The ABC board is expected to meet in March to approve the measure.
Newspapers in the US are suffering from a fall in circulation, with the New York Times and Washington Post both seeing declines. For the six months to September 30, the New York Times Monday to Friday edition decreased from 1,074,741 to 1,066,658.
However, average circulation at the LA Times increased from 1,050,177 to 1,067,540. Gannett-published USA Today also recorded rises.
Newspaper circulations, 6 months to Sep
Newspaper Total Circulation Sept 1997 Sept 1998
LA Times (M-F) 1,050,177 1,067,540\
LA Times (Sat) 986,063 991,480
LA Times (Sun) 1,361,748 1,361,202
Washington Post (M-F) 772,937 759,122
Washington Post (Sat) 719,699 709,578
Washington Post (Sun) 1,099,174 1,080,082
USA Today (M-Th) 1,629,665 1,653,428
USA Today (Fri) 2,049,710 2,083,213
New York Times (M-F) 1,074,741 1,066,658
New York Times (Sat) 1,024,802 1,013,749
New York Times (Sun) 1,658,718 1,627,099
Source: ABC figures to September 30, 1998.