Tronc, Inc., owner of the money-losing New York Daily News, announced today that half of the tabloid’s editorial staff is being axed. Out the door are editor-in-chief Jim Rich, managing editor Kristen Lee and 40-something others. “We are fundamentally restructuring the Daily News,” a Tronc email announced. “We are reducing today the size of the editorial team by approximately 50 percent and re-focusing much of our talent on breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility.”

In other words, the Daily News, which I wrote weekly Hollywood articles for in ’94 and ’95, will be hiring younger, cheaper staffers to save dough. The 99-year-old publication has been losing $30 million annually, for God’s sake. The News will continue to publish for an unspecified time period (perhaps another two or three years or longer…who knows?), but the storied editorial character and muscle fibre will be somewhat downgraded if not absent, and the overall future is sure to be less and less kind to any enterprise that uses printing presses and dead-tree pulp to deliver content.

I’m very, very sorry. I’ve loved and worshipped the Daily News my whole life. My son worked as an intern for Daily News columnists George Rush and Joanna Molloy back in ’05. My heart warms every time I disembark at JFK Airport and see those blessed Manhattan dailies stacked inside a Hudson News store. But the end of the print era has been coming for a long, long time.