What A Newspaper Layoff Looks Like


Layoffs are underway at the LA Times and a guy named Ed Pagett’s been tallying up the pink slips. Its a revealing look into newspaper operations:

  • 63 pressmen and presswomen from Orange County and Olympic
  • 11 machinists at the Olympic Facility
  • 2 pressroom supervisors Olympic and Orange County
  • 1 pressroom clerk from Olympic
  • 3 electro-techs from Olympic
  • 75 editorial employees
  • 4 electro-techs Orange County
  • 4 machinists Orange County
  • 21 mailroom Olympic (4 full time and 17 part time employees)
  • 19 mailroom Orange County (9 full time and 10 part time employees)
  • 2 Security guards
  • 7 Plate makers (5 at Olympic and 2 at Orange County)

His breakdown is a good reminder that newspapers are far more than a bunch of hacks — er, pressmen and presswomen — generating content. There are massive operations geared to pump out and deliver lots of paper each day.

Update: A reader breaks it down for us:

Nicholas, were you ever under the illusion that newspapers were mainly content generators? They are daily manufacturing and distribution companies — actually, with most newspapers, the content people are only 20-30% of total headcount. Production is usually 25%-40% of staff (less if non-unionized, more if unionized), about 15-20% advertising, 5-10% IT, with the balance being circulation, finance, etc. Circulation (distribution) is a big cost, but different newspapers handle it differently in terms of the headcount (some almost completely outsource, while others have staff district and zone managers). In terms of total budget, newsgathering is usually 15-25% of all expenses.

Photo of the Houston Chronicle’s old printing press: eschipul