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Cuomo's request for Tronc to unwind its slashing of the News' staff of journalists by a whopping 50 percent invoked the successful efforts of his father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, to help save the News' archrival New York Post in 1993.
Andrew Cuomo's plea comes as the two-term incumbent Democrat faces a primary challenge from progressive challenger and "Sex and the City" actress Cynthia Nixon — and is the subject of speculation that he could seek his party's 2020 presidential nomination. Cuomo's statement in defense of the paper, and the free press in general, also comes on a day when President Donald Trump delivered yet another attack on The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
The governor — who has taken stiff shots from both of the city's tabloids — has been tacking leftward for months as he eyes both of those fronts.
Cuomo, in a statement, said Tronc's gutting of newsroom staff — just the latest in a series of cutbacks at the paper — will "undoubtedly devastate many households and hurt an important New York institution and one of our nation's journalism giants."
"These layoffs were made without notifying the State or asking for assistance. My father, as Governor, came to the aid of the New York Post when it was facing difficult financial times," Cuomo said. "Even though the Post represented an opposing active partisan interest, my father understood the value of a robust free press. So do I."
"I urge Tronc to reconsider this drastic move and stand ready to work with them to avert this disaster. I understand that large corporations often only see profit and dividends as a bottom line," the governor said. "But in New York, we also calculate loss of an important institution, loss of jobs, and the impact on the families affected. I hope Tronc does the same and recalculates its decision. New York State stands ready to help."
The company, in a statement to CNBC, said: "Tronc is transforming into a truly digitally focused enterprise – one that creates meaningful journalism, delivers it more quickly, and develops new approaches to engage our readers."
"At the same time, we are working diligently to confront the financial realities of our industry, including the significant cost increases associated with the tariffs recently placed on newsprint. Our newsrooms are developing plans to reach these goals, and we do not expect reductions of the Daily News’ scale at any of our other properties."
The Daily News, which was founded in 1919, hit peak circulation numbers in 1947, with 2.4 million copies daily. More recently, daily circulation fell to a couple hundred thousand, as it, like many other newspapers, suffers from an exodus of print readers and a decline in advertising revenue.
Tronc purchased the newspaper last September from its longtime owner Mort Zuckerman. The company reportedly paid just $1 for the tabloid, and in exchange assumed its operational and pension obligations.