LOS ANGELES - Since the novel coronavirus hit newspapers all over the country have been having financial problems and a bunch has been going out of business including three here in our area. And, some of those journalists that have lost their jobs suddenly feel like they’ve been hit by a big truck!
Andy Nguyen - 29 - Berkeley grad - Journalist. Looking for work. Not the situation he dreamed he'd face. Nguyen had a regular job doing what he loved, but the three newspapers he reported for were suddenly shuttered by their parent company the LA TIMES and that blindsided him. He and 13 other staffers were given notice. Says Nguyen, "This came out of nowhere for us. No one expected it.”
Nguyen says it was announced by management at a hastily called staff meeting by the Times.
The layoffs at the Glendale News-Press, The Burbank Leader and the La Canada Valley Sun were blamed on poor subscriptions. The Times said each newspaper had about 5000 each. And, the coronavirus was the last straw! Nguyen says, “Community newspapers rely on advertisers and subscriptions. When businesses are closed down by the virus there’s not advertising so everything shrivels up.”
But, lost in the shuffle... a community source for hyperlocal news: News specific to those communities Nguyen was covering. He says, “We’re at just about every government meeting… city council, school board, planning commission and usually we’re the only people in the audience hearing what the city leaders are talking about and we are providing a vital service to the community to let their know what’s happening.”
For a guy who’s been sometimes the only one in the audience at a public meeting, he feels like HE WAS their reliable source and, “Since the layoffs I’ve been receiving messages saying this is the only way I knew what was happening at the Glendale City Council or the Burbank City Council certainly there are other community publications in the area but they don’t have the coverage that we had.”
The LA Times says it will continue covering stories in Burbank, Glendale and La Canada but, the bigger ones.
There are two photos that appear in this story. Tim Berger was the photographer who captured Andy, reporter notebook in hand, at the table. Raul Roa caught the one of Andy standing. Our thanks to them both for allowing us to use their photos.