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The Daily Cuts a Third of Its Staff

50 staffers will be laid off, Sports and Opinion sections reduced

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The Daily is calling it a staff reorganization, but it really looks more like the beginning of the end. This afternoon, as first reported by AllThingsD, The Daily will be cutting 50 employees from its newsroom, totaling 29 percent of the staff.

In a memo, editor in chief Jesse Angelo tried to soften the blow, describing the layoffs as part of The Daily's quest to continually innovate. "After a period of listening to your feedback and looking at our metrics, we have begun instituting a series of changes to The Daily," Angelo wrote. The memo reveals that Sports and Opinion, the worst traffic performers, will be scaled back significantly. The stand-alone opinion section will disappear entirely, although editorial pieces will appear in the news section “from time to time as appropriate.” While the sports section will remain, all reporting will now be provided by The Daily’s content partners (like Fox Sports) rather than by its own staffers. Photo galleries will be updated daily, and its sports team tracking will stay put (and is “due for an upgrade” soon, according to Angelo).

“These are important changes that will allow The Daily to be more nimble editorially and to focus on the elements that our readers have told us through their consumption that they like and want,” Angelo said. 

HuffPo's Michael Calderone tweeted that The Daily staffers will have a newsroom meeting tonight to address questions about the cuts and editorial reorganization. NewsCorp. issued a press release adding further commentary to the cuts:

“Unfortunately, these changes have forced us to make difficult decisions and to say goodbye to some colleagues who have worked hard to make The Daily successful. These moves were driven by the needs of the business. The Daily is the first of its kind, and it remains the best of its class. We are still in the infancy of this innovative new media platform, but we have delivered excellent content, steadily increasing readership, quality reporting, and award-winning design. Our standards will not diminish as we move forward, nor will our enthusiasm for creating an outstanding daily digital publication.”

The layoffs come after significant speculation this month that things were amiss with paid subscriptions at The Daily. The iPad-centric publication was the first of it kind when it launched in February 2011, looking to fuse next generation design and technology with NewsCorp.'s brand. Since its launch, The Daily has struggled to prove its viability. Earlier this month, after The New York Times confirmed reports that the tablet publication was losing an estimated $30 million annually and had been put “on probation” by News Corp. execs, Angelo released a memo touting The Daily’s 100,000 subscribers and urged staffers to ignore “the haters” and their “misinformed, untrue rumors of our imminent demise.”

Today's changes, which will limit The Daily's layout (the publication is cutting its landscape view), signal a troubling future for the once cutting-edge platform. Yet, for all the fire-and-brimstone talk, The Daily is still driving forward editorially, launching WKND, their weekend magazine supplemental feature.