The Los Angeles Times, like many big news organizations, is cutting hundreds of jobs. The move has been distressing to journalists, readers and, most recently, a congressman.
Henry Waxman, a Democratic representative for California’s 33rd district, expressed concern Thursday about the future of the country’s largest metropolitan daily newspaper in a letter to the head of its parent company, the Tribune Company.
“I am writing on behalf of my constituents who rely daily on the Los Angeles Times for their national news and local reporting,” Waxman wrote to Tribune president and CEO Peter Liguori. “I am concerned that corporate actions the Tribune Company is taking may not be in the best interests of the Los Angeles Times.”
The letter detailed the number of layoffs the newspaper has seen each year since 2010, complete with footnotes for the statistics. The most recent layoff announcement came this November, when Tribune said it would slash 700 jobs at the Los Angeles Times over the next year, representing a 6-percent reduction in its staff.
Last week, Tribune began preparing to spin off its entire newspaper unit and require it to pay the company a cash dividend. The unit includes the California newspaper, which must now pay the corporation rent for the publication’s own building. This development, Waxman wrote, means “the difficulties faced by the Los Angeles Times may get worse.”
The congressman knows that editorial staff cuts have become commonplace at U.S. newspapers to offset yearly revenue losses. However, this specific case seems fishy to him. “The requirement that the newspaper unit go into debt to pay a cash dividend to the Tribune Company will undoubtedly enrich the Tribune Company, but it may do so at the expense of the financial health of the Los Angeles Times,” he wrote, noting that some have described the Times‘ rent requirement “as tantamount to ‘life as a corporate orphan.’”
Waxman closed his inquiry with a request to meet with Tribune officials. The congressman may not have the bulging wallet and entrepreneurial know-how of Jeff Bezos, but he appears to be ready for battle to help save his hometown paper.
What We're Following See More »
The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.