New York's Daily News is now a newspaper without a newsroom

Pedestrians outside The New York Daily News headquarters in Manhattan on July 23, 2018. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - A tabloid once famous for its bustling, big-city newsroom no longer has a newsroom.

In a move that was almost unthinkable before the coronavirus pandemic, Tribune Publishing said on Wednesday (Aug 12) that The Daily News, once the largest-circulation newspaper in the country, was permanently closing its physical newsroom at 4 New York Plaza in lower Manhattan.

The same day, Tribune, the Chicago newspaper chain that has owned The News since 2017, told employees that it was closing four of its other newspapers' offices.

"We have determined that we do not need to reopen this office in order to maintain our current operations," Mr Toni Martinez, a human resources executive at Tribune Publishing, wrote in an e-mail to the staff that was reviewed by The New York Times. "With this announcement, we are also beginning to look at strategic opportunities and alternatives for future occupancy."

The paper will continue to be published. The company made no promises about a future physical location. "As we progress through the pandemic and as needs change, we will reconsider our need for physical offices," said Tribune Publishing spokesman Max Reinsdorf.

Newspapers across the country have been struggling for more than a decade because of punishing industry trends like the move away from revenue-generating print products and the nationalisation of news.

The pandemic, which has sharply squeezed advertising revenue, has added to the publications' woes.

Workers at The Daily News were given until Oct 30 to collect any belongings they had left in the office, although the e-mail said the newsroom "formally closed" on Wednesday.

Another Tribune Publishing spokesman confirmed that the newsrooms of The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and The Orlando Sentinel in Florida had also closed. This year was the 100th anniversary of The Morning Call's occupancy of its newsroom on Sixth Street and Linden Street.

Also closing were the newsroom of The Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland, and the Annapolis, Maryland, newsroom of The Capital Gazette - a newspaper that two years ago experienced tragedy when a gunman killed five staff members in the newsroom, which was then in a different building.

A Chicago Tribune office for suburban publications in Aurora, Illinois, a city of 200,000 to Chicago's south-west, was also closed, according to a staff e-mail on Wednesday.

These offices had been largely bereft of staff for the past few months because of the pandemic, but the news on Wednesday that they were going away for good struck several journalists as a blow.

"We've hung all the awards we've been given, all the photos of our dead colleagues," said Ms Danielle Ohl of The Capital Gazette. Recounting the temporary newsroom the staff went to after the shooting and then the new newsroom that was closed on Wednesday, she added: "It felt like we finally had somewhere we know we will be, and we can move forward. And now we have to leave again. And not only are we leaving, but we're leaving with nowhere else to go."

Ms Jen Sheehan, of The Morning Call, reflected on the coronavirus-imposed status quo. "Nobody wants to be home," she said. "You get a lot out of being around your co-workers, both personally and how you report. We're going to lose all of that."

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