‘Daily News’ chief Colin Myler tells staff layoffs were ‘inevitable,’ announces new digital initiative in boroughs

Colin Myler. ()
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Colin Myler, editor of the Daily News, and Bill Holiber, the paper's president, have just addressed the layoffs that claimed around 20 jobs in the paper's newsroom over the past two days.

"It is a process that has been difficult and painful," they wrote in a memo to staff this afternoon, which was obtained by Capital. "But it is an inevitable consequence of the challenges we continue to face. We want to assure you that the decisions that have been taken followed serious consultations with all departmental heads."

As we've previously reported, more than a dozen News journalists got pink slips yesterday, and another handful were laid off today, amid reports of similar downsizing at two other New York newspapers, the New York Post and The Village Voice.

In the case of the News, the cuts have been characterized as part of a restructuring meant to increase the paper's digital footprint.

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In their memo today, Myler and Holiber announced the creation of a new web franchise called Daily News Local, which they said "will significantly enhance our local borough reporting." The paper's Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn bureau chiefs, as well as others in the borough offices, were among those laid off today.

This new local online strategy dovetails with a similar initiative at the U.S. level, Daily News America, an edition of nydailynews.com designed to ensnare national readers and advertisers.

Daily News Local will presumably compete with DNAinfo.com, a billionaire-backed community-news venture that is currently winning the race for eyeballs and ad dollars in New York's many neighborhoods.

A News spokesperson declined to comment when asked if more journalists would be hired to work on Daily News Local. But the offering will be led by Zach Haberman and Gersh Kuntzman.

Kuntzman joined the News last year following a brief stint editing one of The New York Times' collaborative hyperlocal sites. Before that he was editor-in-chief of The Brooklyn Paper for a number of years and he's also been a reporter and columnist at the New York Post.

You can read the full text of Myler and Holiber's memo below:

Dear Colleagues,

In the last couple of days we have started a process of restructuring our business. It is a process that has been difficult and painful. But it is an inevitable consequence of the challenges we continue to face. We want to assure you that the decisions that have been taken followed serious consultations with all departmental heads.

The newspaper industry is going through an unprecedented revolution. Print advertising and circulation revenue streams continue to fall but our business transformation as a whole is strong and growing. But if we are going to become more successful, the harsh reality is that we have to change how we work. This restructuring is at the heart of our strategy to better secure our future as we navigate the difficult journey as a print/digital/media business.

Our digital growth under Ted Young and his team has been nothing short of phenomenal – with 34 million unique visitors in April, up 48% year–on-year. But we still have much to do and in an effort to achieve our goals we have to seriously look at how we further integrate our print and web teams.

One of the new initiatives we are happy to announce is the launch of Daily News Local (DNL) online. This will be a new strand of our comprehensive web coverage which will significantly enhance our local borough reporting, Led by Zach Haberman and Gersch Kuntzman. It will also offer our many local advertisers with an improved opportunity to grow our commercial partnerships.

Moving forward we have to be in a position to be more flexible and bold. The news cycle has never been more competitive and we would be failing in our duty if we did not acknowledge the realities of how we have to adapt.

The days when we would hold exclusives for the paper and not break news online are over. To that end, we clearly have to put more investment into the web. But this does not mean that we will be reducing investment in the paper. Far from it. We will continue to invest and be committed to quality, campaigning and investigative journalism.

The Daily News newspaper and brand is strong, resilient and relevant and is producing far more significant print advertising revenue streams than digital. However, more businesses are switching their focus from print to online and we have already restructured our commercial teams to maximize these opportunities.

Change is often difficult to embrace. We are sure you will have lots of questions and we will be happy to try to answer them. But we want to reassure you that these changes, which we believe are necessary and inevitable, have been made to strengthen our business and to put us in a better position to meet the many challenges we face in the future.

Colin and Bill