Bombshell report details worries of a ‘shadow’ newsroom and alleged spying at the Los Angeles Times

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REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

  • A comprehensive report published by HuffPost on Friday details claims that Tronc, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, is staffing a “shadow” newsroom in a move that could threaten the jobs of newly unionized journalists at the newspaper.
  • According to the report, Tronc could be developing a contributor network within the LA Times. The new group allegedly reports to the company’s business division, prompting worries of redundancies with the main newsroom.
  • The report, which cites multiple current and former employees, also alleges that some newsroom staffers are being targeted by management over suspected leaks, which caused some staffers to worry the company was spying on their phones and computers.

Some employees at the Los Angeles Times are reportedly facing new uncertainty only days after the newspaper’s editorial staff voted to unionize, HuffPost reported on Friday.

Tronc, the publisher of the LA Times, is developing a separate entity within the company and hiring a team of editors who will oversee a group of contributors, HuffPost reported. The new entity – called the L.A. Times Network – exists on the company’s business side, prompting concerns about potential conflicts with editorial staffers.

Journalists hired for the new venture have been working on the second floor of LA Times’ offices, one floor below the main newsroom. Some had not yet been formally introduced to editorial staff, HuffPost reported. Employees cited by HuffPost said they fear Tronc may be trying to create a redundant, “shadow” newsroom of non-union employees as a precursor to layoffs of newly unionized journalists.

The initiative Tronc is pursuing, in which contributors produce content on niche topics that get distributed throughout Tronc’s newspaper network, is not a new concept. Business Insider’s advertising reporter Tanya Dua wrote last week that such a model, which for years had been a proven way for publishers to scale quickly and affordably, has gone out of fashion.

Additionally, employees alleged that some staffers were being targeted by management over suspected leaks, with some employees saying they feared the company was spying on their phones and computers. Those fears were compounded, according to HuffPost, after one LA Times editor was recently suspended and escorted off the premises.

According to HuffPost, that editor, Kimi Yoshino, had previously supervised an investigative piece about the business relationship between Disney and the city of Anaheim, where two Disney theme parks are located. Yoshino is widely respected in the LA Times newsroom, according to staffers cited by HuffPost, but the Disney story allegedly upset editor-in-chief Lewis D’Vorkin, who current and former LA Times employees described as “highly critical” of Yoshino.

“He’s at war with the entire staff. It’s incredible,” one employee reportedly said.

Read the full story at HuffPost »