Tronc Inc., the company that owns the New York Daily News, is laying off half the newspaper's staff and replacing its ousted editor-in-chief with Robert York, publisher and editor of the Allentown Morning Call.
Tronc owns both newspapers. Daily News staff learned of the change Monday in a morning meeting that lasted less than a minute, according to the New York Times. Jim Rich, the outgoing editor-in-chief, decried the move on Twitter prior to the meeting. His bio now reads: "Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction."
York joined the Morning Call in July 2016 — becoming its fifth publisher in the past year, the newspaper reported at the time. He previously worked for two decades at the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Tronc's move on Monday drew swift condemnation. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it a "disaster" and urged Tronc to reconsider.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also came to the Daily News' defense, writing on Twitter that "Tronc should sell the paper to someone committed to local journalism and keeping reporters on the beat."
Tronc, based in Chicago, bought the Daily News last year for $1 and the assumption of operational and pension liabilities, according to the Chicago Tribune (Tronc also owns the Tribune). Justin Dearborn, Tronc's chief executive officer, told the newspaper at the time: "We think this is a great deal for the paper and for us. We expect it to benefit greatly from becoming part of the Tronc ecosystem."
Some Daily News staffers left the newsroom in tears upon hearing of the layoffs Monday.
York appeared taken by surprise about Tronc's announcement and told Gothamist: "I need to regroup and figure this out, because there was a timing sequence to this that's now not being adhered to, in terms of the announcement."
Tronc, in announcing the layoffs, cited financial challenges and said it wanted to refocus on breaking news.
Media reports have described the Daily News as a newsroom of 75 to 100 staffers, with sources telling the New York Post the number was around 85 before the cuts.
Candace Amos, among those laid off, tweeted that the whole social media team had been let go.
It appears not everyone immediately lost access to the Daily News' Twitter account, which at 12:46 p.m. posted a gif of John Travolta looking confused in the movie Pulp Fiction. That tweet and other posts were later removed.