NY Daily News slashes staff in half after ominous tweet from former editor

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  • The Daily News announced Monday it will cut half of its newsroom staff, saying it will focus more on digital news.
  • Revenue and print circulation have shrunk in recent years, even as it provided critical coverage of health issues in public housing and for first responders after the Sept. 11 attacks.
  • Editor-in-chief Jim Rich was included in the layoffs, and tweeted an ominous message early Monday morning, saying today was a good day “if you hate democracy”.

The Daily News announced Monday it will cut half of its newsroom staff, saying it will focus more on digital news.

Recent reports had said layoffs at the nearly 100-year-old paper were coming, but the decision was made final in an email sent to staff Monday. Tronc Inc. said staff at the Daily News will focus on breaking news involving “crime, civil justice and public responsibility.”

The Daily News was sold to tronc last year for $1, with the owner of the Chicago Tribune assuming liabilities and debt.

When reached for comment by Business Insider, tronc provided the memo it had prepared for Daily News staff that specified the layoffs reflect “the realities of our business and the need to adapt an ever-changing media environment,” not the ability of the paper’s staff.

The memo also announced Robert York will take over as editor-in-chief, as managing editor Kristen Lee and editor-in-chief Jim Rich were included in the layoffs.

Revenue and print circulation have been sliding at the newspaper for years, as the paper reportedly lost $90.4 million since 2011 – even after it provided critical coverage of health issues in public housing and for first responders after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Rich tweeted an ominous message early Monday morning before the layoffs were announced.

Rich’s Twitter bio also reads: “Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction”.

Often called “New York’s Hometown Newspaper”, the Daily News made waves in recent years with its coverage of gun violence in America that often featured provocative covers.

Rich once said in an interview with CNN the goal of a Daily News’ cover was to “give you a punch in the gut”.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted late Monday morning to defend what he called “an important New York institution and one of our nation’s journalism giants” and urge tronc to “reconsider this drastic decision”.

Cuomo also seemed to suggest the possibility of state support to reverse the layoffs, noting how his father helped revive the New York Post when he was governor and saying “New York State stands ready to help.”

The Daily News first published on Thursday June 26, 1919 and is one of 10 daily publications owned by tronc, in addition to publications including the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun.