New York Daily News Lays Off Half Its Staff in Email, 1-Minute Meeting

The Daily News is cutting half its reporting staff. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The New York Daily News is cutting its editorial staff in half and refocusing on breaking news. It’s the latest setback for a legendary New York City tabloid that has seen its fortunes slip in recent years.

Tronc (which purchased the Daily News last year for $1) broke the news in an unsigned email to staff. Employees were also called into an all-hands meeting about the cuts that lasted one minute.

Laid-off workers will continue to be paid for 90 days and receive “transitional benefits” after that period ends.

“The decisions being announced today reflect the realities of our business and the need to adapt an ever-changing media landscape,” the email read. “They are not a reflection on the significant talent that is leaving.”

Editor-in-chief Jim Rich and managing editor Kristen Lee have been fired as part of the reshuffling. Robert York, an editor and publisher at papers in California and Pennsylvania, will take over as editor-in-chief on July 30.

The “new” Daily News will apparently focus on “crime, civil justice and public responsibility.” Local news and sports will play a more limited role—indeed, 25 sports writers were cut.

The Tronc message categorized this change as a “vital transformation.”

“We know our readers look to us for a unique point of view, and we believe these topics offer our best opportunity to differentiate our reporting,” the email read.

The laid-off reporters certainly don’t feel that way, judging from the funereal atmosphere outside the Daily News office in lower Manhattan. Many TV reporters hugged the newly jobless journalists (who were carrying bags and boxes filled with memories) after filming interviews with them.

Photographer Todd Maisel was laid off after 18 years at the Daily News. He told assembled media the paper’s entire photo desk had been cut, along with “superstar” reporters.

“I’m very grateful to the Daily News,” Maisel said. “Not Tronc. They’re from somewhere else. They don’t understand us, they don’t understand New York. They’re gonna be sorry they made the decisions they made.”

Ironically, last night the Daily News espoused the virtues of local news in a tweetstorm.

And in an op-ed yesterday, senior Daily News editor Harry Siegel defended the importance of local journalism.

“The reporters dutifully showing up at public hearings and court cases and press conferences, filing endless requests for public information so that it ends up, you know, public are there as a check on the elected officials who are supposed to represent us,” Siegel wrote.

As the layoff news broke, journalists began sharing not only Siegel’s column but the local news scoops the Daily News was known for until today.

Earlier this month, a Daily News investigation also forced President Donald Trump to pay $48,000 in taxes on his Trump Tower condo.

Despite these triumphs, the paper’s financial picture has been murky for a while. It’s laid off writers and seen circulation decline in recent years.  In fact, the Daily News loses about $30 million annually, according to regulatory filings.

The tabloid’s weekday print circulation (which once totaled nearly one million readers) is now only about 200,000 strong. Digital traffic has also fallen nearly 30 percent.

And ironically, New York’s “hometown paper” is doing all of its design and layout in Chicago. Tronc reportedly wanted to consolidate editing and design tasks for all of the papers under its umbrella at its headquarters.

Like many laid-off reporters before them, the Daily News journalists decided to drown their sorrows in alcohol at a local watering hole.

“Goddamnit, where are we drinking?” Maisel asked. “I want the hard shit.”

Among the chosen watering holes was White Horse Tavern on Stone Street. One Daily News staffer exiting the bar with a box of belongings took a darkly humorous view of the situation.

“I feel so fuckin’ New York right now,” he said.

New York Daily News Lays Off Half Its Staff in Email, 1-Minute Meeting