El Diario, New York’s oldest Spanish-language newspaper, is getting smaller – in pages and staff. Parent company impreMedia, bought by Argentina’s La Nación in 2012, which has been in restructuring mode for the past 3 years and is struggling to keep the 102 year-old paper afloat, did another round of cuts in its New York publication. This time, it laid off 13 employees.
According to an inside source, 7 of the layoffs were from the editorial department, leaving a mere two reporters to cover New York City. Among those who lost their jobs on January 15: editor Manuel Avendaño, reporters Cristina Loboguerrero and Joaquín Botero, writer Marcela Álvarez, sports writer Nube Urgiles, photographer Mariela Lombard and designer Fabiola Rodríguez.
The most recent cuts prompted a call to action from NY Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who yesterday led a City Council public hearing on the crisis of community ethnic media. He also participated in a “Save El Diario” rally on the steps of NY’s City Hall just before the hearing.
During the hearing, Gabriel Dantur, impreMedia’s CEO since January 1, spoke in defense of the company. He stated he would welcome advertising from city agencies promoting its programs and services.
But that revenue stream will likely be insufficient to offset operational costs and losses. Dantur told the NY Post El Diario that although the paper was under “financial stress,” restructuring efforts since La Nación took over have cut company losses from “$12 million to an estimated $2 million last year,” with the expectation to “break even in 2016.”
Although he didn’t want to “disclose the economic data of a private company,” Dantur told Media Moves that “definitely La Nación’s investment in impreMedia” has exceeded $20 million since 2012.
With regards to rumors circulating that the company would cease to publish a printed edition, Dantur issued this company statement: “Our business strategy does not consist of setting a death date for printed newspapers but, on the contrary, to define a new value proposition for them: value for the audience and value for advertisers,” but emphasized there needs to be “financial solvency” to keep producing independent journalism.
The statement also addressed the issue of layoffs: “This search for financial sustainability has meant taking uncomfortable and painful decisions that are nonetheless justified by the ulterior motive of ensuring the survival of our company and its brands.”
El Diario’s unionized staff, represented by the NY Newspaper Guild since 1976, has actively organized protests concerning the restructuring of the paper and behavior of its leadership, accusing impreMedia of illegally firing employees in 2014, taking the case to the NLRB.