Staffers are having a hard time adjusting to new marching orders from the Tribune Co.
This column appeared Jan. 25, 2001, in the Online Journalism Review. Here’s the version on the OJR site.
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By J.D. Lasica
What a difference a merger makes.
A year ago the 100-person online staff at the Los Angeles Times was riding high in the digital saddle. New media director Leah Gentry, widely admired in online news circles, called her team “the hardest working band in show business.” On one occasion, she brought in bottles of champagne and toasted her staff when the site blasted through another traffic milestone.
The partying stopped on March 13, when the Tribune Co. acquired Times Mirror Co. for $8 billion. The takeover became official in June.
At first, the Times’ online staffers, like their print counterparts, gave the benefit of the doubt to their new corporate stepparents after being assured that the takeover would result in no job cuts.
But detente gave way to cynicism less than seven months later when the Tribune Co. announced that 34 employees in its Internet division — including 20 staffers at latimes.com — were being laid off “to realize operating efficiencies from its merger with Times Mirror Co. and accelerate its progress toward profitability,” Tribune Co. spokesman John Lyday said at the time.
The Times’ online division is currently under a mandate to turn in a $5 million profit during the current calendar year, according to two sources. The internal goal is to hit $21 million in ad revenue, one said.
The Times’ online division is currently under a mandate to turn in a $5 million profit during the current calendar year, according to two sources. The internal goal is to hit $21 million in ad revenue, one said. While ambitious, the goal of profitability may be within reach because capital costs were removed from the Times’ books and are now assigned to Chicago.