Between 80 and 90 employees of the company that owns the Orange County Register will lose their jobs this week, the publisher told the staff Monday.
The layoffs are necessary for the paper's survival, Publisher Terry Horne said. About 5% of the people who work for Santa Ana-based Orange County Register Communications, which owns the newspaper and several other publications and websites, will be out of work.
"We're still in troubled waters," Horne said in an e-mail to employees. "If we don't make large-scale changes now, there's no promise of a continually profitable and sustainable enterprise in the future."
He cited a "dramatic decline" in classified advertising revenue in the last two years.
The Register, like most U.S. newspapers, has been losing both ad revenue and subscribers. Its daily circulation declined 11.9% in the six months ending March 31 to 250,724, while its Sunday circulation fell 5.3% to 311,982, an Audit Bureau of Circulation report shows
The numbers in the report turned the Register, which had been California's third-largest daily, into its fifth-largest, behind the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union-Tribune and Sacramento Bee.
Horne said the company had cut costs in hopes it could avoid firing employees.
Some reporters complained that the cuts had lowered the quality of the paper. As many as 16 longtime reporters and editors were being fired, insiders said.
"The quality of the stories is turning the paper into more like a community throwaway weekly. Readers are noticing and having less of a reason to pick up the paper," said one newsroom veteran who asked to remain anonymous to protect his job.
"There's a sense of frustration," he added, "but also of inevitability."