Local news coverage folding into A-section

The Los Angeles Times is undergoing a major overhaul, downsizing as of March 2 into four main news sections and discontinuing the stand-alone California section. As a result, the Times will lay off an additional 300 staffers, including 70 in editorial.

The cost-cutting measures call for the Times to fold the California section’s local news coverage into its A-section, which will lead off inside with state and local centric news, followed by national and international coverage and the opinion pages.

The change will free up room on the Times’ press runs to allow the profitable Calendar section to shift to a later deadline and incorporate more breaking news. At present, the section has an early afternoon deadline. But news of the demise of California quickly generated complaints from readers on the Times’ website.

“The minute I wake up and find the California section missing is the minute I cancel my subscription,” read a comment Friday ayem posted by a reader identified as “Paul.”

Meanwhile, Times brass said the Business section will revive the “Company Town” showbiz-centric feature in an effort to enhance the section. Obituaries and the weather page will run in the back of this section. The Sports section will absorb classified ads.

The Times’ weekly feature section lineup will remain the same: Health on Monday, Food on Wednesday, Home on Saturday and Image, Travel, Arts & Books on Sunday.

“These are necessary to facilitate greater efficiencies in how we approach our operations, production and distribution,” L.A. Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein said in a memo to the staff issued Friday.

The staff cuts announced Friday follow the pinkslipping of more than 200 editorial jobs at the Times since last summer (Daily Variety, Oct. 28). The latest reduction brings the editorial staff down to about 575, or about half of the size it was in the early part of the decade.

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