Daily News ‘in total shock’ after layoffs; Lupica’s job still up in the air?

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The Daily News. (POLITICO Media)
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Following Wednesday's bloodbath at the Daily News, where a fresh stack of pink slips was handed out around the company, newsroom staffers returned to the paper's Lower Manhattan headquarters on Thursday to assess the damage and get back to work, even as they braced for further cuts that they feared could be coming down.

"Some seriously talented journos out the door," said one veteran of the paper, who didn't want to be named, adding that the newsroom was "in total shock."

Then again, they've probably gotten used to this sort of thing. With plummeting print circulation, an onslaught of online competition and annual losses in the tens of millions, the News has endured repeated downsizings over the past several years, resulting in a perennial exit march of longtime reporters and editors.

However, this latest culling, which sources estimated to be between 40 and 50 positions companywide (the News would not confirm), seemed a bit more ominous. Perhaps that's because the layoffs came in the wake of editor in chief Colin Myler's resignation announcement last week and owner Mort Zuckerman's August decision to take to the money-losing tabloid off the market after it failed to draw serious bids from a handful of potential suitors. Or perhaps it was just because of the stature of some of the journalists who lost their jobs, like sports writers Bill Madden and Filip Bondy (the sports department was hit particularly hard), and political columnist Bill Hammond.

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There were other names—too many to list them all here—that raised eyebrows: TV critic David Hinckley was described by one member of the newsroom as a "true legend"; Teri Thompson was a female sports editor on a beat dominated by men; Justin Rocket Silverman was known for his zany first-person immersion stunts in the feature pages; Wayne Coffey had just one week earlier broken the story of retired tennis star James Blake being slammed to the ground by an NYPD officer in a case of mistaken identity.

But the biggest byline making the rounds was Mike Lupica, the famously divisive sports columnist who is one of the most senior and highest paid editorial employees at the News.

On Wednesday, sources told POLITICO—as well as CNN Money and the New York Post—that Lupica would be leaving the paper because he could not come to an agreement with management about the terms of a new contract.

Now it seems like Lupica and his bosses might still be trying to work something out, sources said.

Lupica did not return an email seeking confirmation on his status; reached by CNN Money, he did not answer a question about whether he will remain at the News. A newsroom source pointed out that he was still at work and had new stories on the schedule.

"Unless a last-minute deal is reached, he will depart before year-end," the Post reported, noting that Lupica "appeared headed to the door after rejecting Zuckerman’s low-ball offer on a new contract."

As for rumors that the News may be on the verge of cutting back the number of days it publishes a print edition, a source briefed on the paper's plans said "there is no truth whatsoever."