Tronc is actively looking at the Westside as a possible future location for our newsroom, according to several well-connected sources. Santa Monica, Playa del Rey (perhaps Playa Vista) have been floated as prospective addresses. We have also obtained an older proposal for Tronc’s plan to move our newsroom to the Aon building downtown.
We don’t have any more details. But we think it's essential that the newsroom is consulted on such an important decision.
Several members of the L.A. Times Guild organizing committee reached out to Ross requesting information before preparing this memo.
We voiced concern that a move out of downtown -- our address since the founding of the paper -- could seriously impact our news gathering and newsroom budget, as well as the commutes of hundreds of Times staffers. We asked Ross to meet with us and include the newsroom in discussions.
He declined. You can read our exchange with him below.
If you have concerns about this move, we encourage you to share them with Ross, Lewis and Jim.
The LAT Guild Organizing Committee
Our email to Ross
We remember your promise to bring transparency and a culture of collaboration to the newsroom. We can think of few matters that require greater measures of both than the future address of The Times and the suitability of our workspace.
You didn't respond to our query about a possible move of The Times to the Westside, as well as a proposal for relocating the newspaper to the Aon building. Can we arrange a meeting in the next few days to discuss our concerns?
We ask that you consult the newsroom as part of any further consideration of moving The Times or altering the layout of the newsroom.
Westside communities — such as Santa Monica and Playa del Rey — are wonderful places to live and important to our news coverage. But relocating to that area would make our jobs more challenging and nearly double the commute times of the average staffer.
Downtown is the most central location to many of the communities and institutions that are vital to our daily reporting, including city, county, state and several federal government offices, big financial houses and law firms, and centers of culture and sport, such as the Music Center, a cluster of major museums, the Staples Center and Dodger Stadium.
In addition, it is our impression that moving to a Westside address would mean leasing costs higher than those available downtown, premiums The Times cannot afford given our more pressing needs.
We did a detailed analysis of commute times for newsroom staffers, based on their home addresses and Google traffic data. It determined that nearly 90% of the staff would spend more time driving to and from work if The Times moved to, for example, Santa Monica. In the morning, the average drive beginning at 9:15 a.m. would jump from the current 37 minutes to more than an hour. Roughly the same would occur for the evening drive, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Employees whose commutes start closer to the thick of the rush would be in traffic even longer. And for staffers who use mass transit, daily round-trip commutes would shoot up from 2 hours and 35 minutes to more than four hours.
It's difficult for us to imagine why you would consider a move to the Westside.
Which brings us to the Aon proposal. As you know, we’ve obtained floor plans and other material for the bid to locate The Times in the Aon building. Because you have not communicated with us, there is much we don’t know about the proposal. But we found it alarming for several reasons:
First, it seemed to devote a lopsided amount of space and expense to lavish, penthouse accommodations for executives – including a game room and tricked-out helipad.
Second, the proposal placed the journalists who produce The Times in cramped quarters poorly designed for the work we do. We appeared to have been sardined at communal work tables, rather than given individual spaces. Temporary work tables do not lend themselves to the craft and art of conducting interviews (often on sensitive topics), poring over stacks of documents, writing stories and jamming on deadline.
Other features of the proposal are dated and gimmicky – the genius bar and branded uniforms among them.
Again, we ask that you open to the staff any discussion of relocating The Times and reconfiguring the newsroom. We're asking for a meeting in the coming days to address these issues with you personally, as a gesture of good faith, before we bring them to the newsroom.
We look forward to your response.
Thanks for taking the time and effort to research and write the note regarding your concerns about our business going forward. When the time is right for the company to communicate our go-forward strategy, including our current lease situation, I will do my best to do so in the right setting. Until that time, it’s important we all keep focused on delivering the best possible experiences for our millions of consumers who count on the Los Angeles Times day in and day out. Thanks for reaching out.