Los Angeles Times staffers fear more layoffs coming

We feel like we’ve read this bad news before. Our sources tell us that they are expecting another round of layoffs in the Los Angeles Times newsroom. They said that people thought a few dozen editorial staffers could get their walking papers this week, though someone else close to the paper whom we spoke cautioned that amount was too extreme.

The paper hasn’t scheduled any meetings or circulated any memos, the sources said. In other words, all this could change. A Times spokeswoman declined to comment.

The blog, which follows the Times closely, reported that at least one reporter, Tina Daunt, has posted on her Facebook page that she has been canned. “More expected through the day,” the blog also reported.

The LA Times is part of Tribune Co, the bankrupt, Chicago-based newspaper publisher and television broadcaster that also owns the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and Orlando Sentinel, among others. Times are tough at Tribune’s newspapers, as well as other papers around the nation.

USA Today and many other papers are set to report big declines in circulation next Monday (though some of that is actually a good thing, which we’ll explain in a subsequent blog post), and publishers such as Gannett Co Inc and McClatchy have been making their quarterly numbers only because of big cost cut — of which layoffs are a major part. The New York TImes, which has the largest newspaper editorial staff in the nation, said on Monday that it will slice 100 jobs through buyouts and maybe layoffs from its newsroom. The Charlotte Observer, a McClatchy paper, is offering buyouts too.

Did *anyone* like the Los Angeles Times ads?

You have to hand it to Sam Zell and his band of outsiders at bankrupt media company Tribune Co. They are going to remake the newspaper business if it kills them.

The gang got broiled for a front-page ad that the Los Angeles Times ran last week that looked like an article. After that outcry, the Tribune-owned paper did it again, this time with another an ad supplement for Paramount’s movie, “The Soloist.” That one includes an interview with Steve Lopez, the Times columnist who wrote the book that became the movie. The ad also ran under the LA Times’s own banner.

As it turns out, nearly everyone who cares enough to talk about these ads in public despises them. You could have said that LA Times employees were just kvetching when they circulated a petition voicing their opposition to the ads — broke down and dispirited by bankruptcy, and repeated waves of layoffs, they stuck to the old line that there needs to be a distinction between ads and editorial copy for various ethical reasons.

L.A. Times staffers fume over front-page ad

The decision by the Los Angeles Times to run a front-page ad that looks like a news story has raised eyebrows in media circles. LAT staffers, meanwhile, are raising their pitchforks.

Horrified by what they see as a deceptive blurring of the line between paid advertising and news stories, some 100 employees at the paper have signed a petition to Publisher Eddy Hartenstein “strenuously” objecting.

“This place already had horrible morale problems with decimating layoffs, but now to have our publisher whore out the front page is more than we can stand,” one editorial staff member told Reuters. “It blurs the line between paid content and content that our reporters are producing.”

Murdoch’s paper love: LA Times next?

Rumors of Rupert Murdoch’s interest in buying The New York Times have been swirling for ages, and maybe the media mogul would have snapped up the venerable paper by now were it not for the Sulzbergers.

But there’s always a consolation prize, and this one’s from the West Coast. Variety writes that Murdoch could be interested in buying The Los Angeles Times and has been talking “fervently” about making a play for the paper.

And that would surely be an easier purchase to pull off, given that LA Times’ owner Tribune is in the middle of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Maybe Sam Zell, who owns Tribune, would be more willing to sell the paper to a fellow mogul than the Sulzbergers.

Obama: Good for newspapers — today

NEW YORK – In the same way that the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series win boosted Inquirer and Daily News sales last week, U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama is jumping in to help papers across the country survive.

People across the country flocked to convenience stores and newsstands snatch up copies of their local papers, which ultimately will prove the most enduring mementos commemorating the election of the first black president of the United States. It’s not a long-term game changer, considering that you can’t hold an historic presidential election every day, but it’s a nice sweetener for a bitter industry story.

Here’s just one example of how the day is shaping up: The New York Times is printing an extra 50,000 copies of today’s paper for the local market after completely selling out, according to spokeswoman Catherine Mathis. (See the Romenesko journalism blog for more details about heavy press runs at other U.S. newspapers.)

GM to ad agencies: We need to talk

general-motors.jpgHow tough are things at General Motors?

Not only has the car maker scaled back on its advertising budget, but now it wants the ad agencies it works with to cut their fees by as much as 20 percent this year and next, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

It’s no surprise GM has pulled back on some marketing — just look at any figures over the past year. It’s not like anybody else in Detroit is going gangbusters with their spending either — Ford and Chrysler have also cut their spend, data from TNS shows.

But the WSJ article underscores the risks to the advertising and media industry posed by the meltdown in Detroit. Car makers, after all, are huge clients for advertising agencies. The money they spend also fuels revenue for the media companies that carry the advertisements, from television to print and beyond.

Ex-AOL exec joins newspaper publisher AH Belo

Dallas Morning News and Providence Journal publisher AH Belo Corp is getting some online representation. David Morgan,  who worked at Time Warner’s AOL between September 2007 and February 2008, is joining the Dallas-based company’s board, the Morning News reported on Thursday.

Morgan was founder of Tacoda and Real Media. See Buzzmachine proprietor Jeff Jarvis’s short, complimentary writeup about Morgan here .

Also joining is John Puerner, former publisher of the Los Angeles Times, whose territory butts up against Belo’s Press-Enterprise daily newspaper in Riverside County, California.