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Tronc Lays Off 50% of New York Daily News Editorial Staff, Including Top Editor Jim Rich

Tronc swung the ax hard on the New York Daily News — cutting half the newspaper’s editorial staff, including editor-in-chief Jim Rich and managing editor Kristen Lee.

Tronc, in an announcement sent Monday to employees of the 99-year-old tabloid, said the massive cutbacks will include refocusing the paper’s coverage on breaking news.

“We are fundamentally restructuring the Daily News,” the company said in the memo. “We are reducing today the size of the editorial team by approximately 50% and re-focusing much of our talent on breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility.” Over the last few years, the tabloid’s newsroom staff has declined from several hundred to between about 75-100 people, the New York Times reported.

Tronc has named Robert York, previously publisher and editor-in-chief of the company’s Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa., to head the NY Daily News as of next Monday (July 30). Prior to joining the Morning Call in 2016, York had worked for 20 years at Tronc’s San Diego Union-Tribune, most recently as VP of strategy and operations.

In a tweet early Monday, departing NY Daily News editor-in-chief Rich wrote, “If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.” Rich’s Twitter profile currently reads, “Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction.”

Tronc bought the NY Daily News last fall for a token $1 and the assumption of operational costs and pension liabilities from real-estate magnate Mortimer Zuckerman, who had owned the tabloid since 1993. Zuckerman originally purchased the Daily News for $36 million, and had previously engaged in sporadic attempts to sell the tabloid in recent years.

It’s been a year of upheaval for Tronc, the Chicago-based publishing business of the company formerly known as Tribune Co. Earlier this year, Tronc sold the Los Angeles Times, along with the San Diego Union-Tribune and other titles in Southern California to investor and biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million and the assumption of $90 million pension liabilities.

In March, Michael Ferro, the former Tronc chairman, stepped down from the company’s board just prior to a report from Fortune detailing allegations of sexual advances by two women who were doing business with him.

Currently, Tronc owns and operates publications in 10, including the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, the Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, Virginia’s Daily Press, and The Virginian-Pilot, the Morning Call and the Hartford Courant.

Pictured above: A newsstand displays copies of the New York Daily News’ Sept. 5, 2017, edition, after the tabloid was acquired by Tronc

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