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L.A. Times print edition shrinks due to economic recession

Updated:2010-02-02 10:18:58

The Los Angeles Times, the largest newspaper on the West Coast, began to trim its print edition again on Monday due to the economic recession and changing readership habits.

The most-obvious change to readers are the reduction in width of the printed page. The double-page paper stock are trimmed from 48 inches to 44 inches, meaning a two-inch haircut for each printed page.

For the first time in decades, Monday's Times are printed without a stand-alone business section. The newspaper's editors plan to sprinkle business news into the combined world/nation/ state/local section each Monday.

Deadlines for the main sections of the newspaper are advanced about three hours earlier, to accommodate a 6 p.m. press run. Late- breaking news are highlighted in a new section to be called LATExtra, which are inserted into the main sections late each evening.

The sports section continue to have its customary late deadlines each night, to enable coverage of games and scores, The Times said.

Insiders at The Times have griped that the earlier deadlines are to enable the paper to continue a lucrative printing job: producing West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Post under contract from press baron Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

The paper is laying off 80 press operators after shuttering its Orange County satellite printing plant in Costa Mesa, while consolidating its printing operations at its plant on Ninth Street in the Los Angeles produce district, the paper announced earlier this month.

Like all newspapers, The Times has seen its print edition's readership declining more than 30 percent in the Internet era, and the amount of ads has been drastically cut by deep recessions in the car and real estate sectors, newspaper analysts have noted.

A stand-alone daily California-local news section has already evaporated, as have the book review, Sunday opinion section, real estate section, and other longstanding features.

The Times is owned by the Tribune Company, which remains in bankruptcy protection while majority owner Sam Zell and the company's creditors and debt-holders battle over a restructuring plan. Some journalists have filed suit charging Zell for mismanaging Tribune employees' retirement funds to finance his purchase of the Chicago-based company.




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