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Los Angeles Times Lays Off At Least 11 Employees (EXCLUSIVE)

Graphics, design departments cut on eve of company's new fiscal year

The Los Angeles Times has laid off at least 11 employees Friday as it seeks to reduce head count in advance of a potential sale.

A letter from editor Davan Maharaj and managing editor Marc Duvoisin was just issued to the newsroom confirming a “modest” amount of cuts.

The graphics and design departments were hit the hardest, losing seven in the former division and two in the latter. Other losses include arts reporter Jori Finkel from the arts section and Mike Anton, an Orange County-based reporter.

Additionally, LA Times reporter Kim Murphy tweeted Friday that national editor Roger Smith was retiring after 36 years at the paper.

The Times, as well as other traditional media outlets, has had multiple rounds of layoffs in recent years. Tribune Company, its parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2008 after a disastrous purchase from real estate magnate Sam Zell. After a reorganization, the embattled media company emerged from bankruptcy under new ownership and a new board at the end of 2012.

The Los Angeles Times and seven other newspapers owned by Tribune are said to be up for sale, though the formal bidding process has yet to get under way.

The cuts come on the heels of launching a refreshed layout for their homepage on Friday and months before a site-wide redesign goes live.

Here’s the text of the letter the editors released to the newsroom late Friday:

We’ve just completed a modest round of staff reductions.

Losing even a small number of colleagues is difficult. Losing them in a close-knit newsroom where we all work together for a common purpose is even harder.

But it does not alter our mission or our focus on the future.

We will continue to reshape the newsroom to enhance our digital report, from breaking news to narrative and investigative projects. That will require us to keep developing our multimedia skills–within the newsroom and with new recruits.

The redesign of latimes.com is set to launch this fall. It will greatly enhance the reader experience and give us a wealth of new tools for presenting stories, graphics, photos and video. The redesign will build on recent improvements, such as the new template for Column One, the groundbreaking work of our data team and our steadily expanding real-time coverage of the news.

We’re both available to respond to questions or concerns.

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