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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   November 1998  issue

The Times It Is A-Changin’   

LA Times' new initiative hopes to increase circulation by up to 1 million copies.

By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      

The Los Angeles Times announces its determination to increase circulation by up to 1 million copies and outlines a number of projects to make that happen. But to pay for these initiatives, and because ad revenue this year was lower than anticipated, the paper "must reduce our expenses," according to a memo from President and CEO Kathryn Downing and Editor and Executive Vice President Michael Parks. It continues, "We anticipate that this will result in staff reductions." Says Parks, "In the newsroom, I froze most positions, not all, in order to see where we'll wind up." He adds, "I have not said there would not be layoffs. I said, 'We don't know.' " Among the paper's planned new ventures are the previously announced launch of a national edition, the transformation of Life and Style into Southern California Living, and the addition of five more Our Times sections, which provide highly localized coverage. The Times is also considering printing a smaller paper, moving from a 54-inch web width to 50 inches, to reduce costs. Parks says the paper will increase coverage of Latino communities and has already strengthened the Washington bureau and coverage of religion, science and education. Among the staff, Parks says, "there was a lot of uncertainty" along with an "active interest in the new things we're doing... We have to respond to changing times."