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July 23, 2018, 10:47 a.m.
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LINK: www.pewresearch.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   July 23, 2018

“If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.”

That was a tweet at 1:40 a.m. this morning from Jim Rich. A little later, he changed his Twitter bio, which had read “Editor-in-Chief at NY Daily News,” to “Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction.”

The Daily News layoff rumors proved true on Monday morning when Tronc, the Daily News’ parent company, announced it’s laying off 50 percent of the paper’s editorial team (which was already down to about 85) and “refocusing much of our talent on breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility.”

The New York Daily News, launched in 1919, had a peak weekday circulation of 2.4 million in 1947 and once sold more copies than any other paper in America. That total was down to 200,000 in 2017 when Tronc acquired the paper for a symbolic $1 plus the assumption of pension and operational liabilities. Layoffs began almost immediately and continued through the spring.

The Daily News isn’t alone in suffering cuts. More than a third of the largest U.S. newspapers, and nearly a quarter of the “highest-traffic digital-native news outlets,” experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of 110 newspapers and 35 digital-native news outlets published Monday. Large papers (with a circulation of at least 250,000) were more likely to have seen layoffs than smaller papers.

Pew compiled its layoff statistics primarily from published news reports, and the analysis acknowledges that there could have been even more layoffs that weren’t publicly reported. It also wasn’t always able to break out the types of positions that were eliminated. But:

Of the 35 newspapers for which the Center could determine the number of laid-off newsroom staff, about half (49 percent) laid off 10 or fewer employees, according to the analysis. The cuts tended to be larger at eight digital-native news outlets where the number of layoffs could be determined: Only one outlet laid off fewer than 10 employees.

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