On today’s agenda: Major layoffs in two cities and the first signs of a cutbacks in a third that’s closer to home, plus the inevitable slashes at smaller publications and the death of one small newspaper chain.
One thing to note. While some of the numbers may seem small, the newsroom staffs are far smaller than just a few years ago, so the impacts will be disproportionately greater than the figures would first appear.
Chicago Tribune brings out the chopping block
The Tribune Co. Is still reeling from the $8.2 billion buyout by Sam Zell, which was funding on the backs on the workers through their Employee stock ownership plan.
Zell, who’s also Berkeley’s biggest private landlord, drove the chain into bankruptcy a year later, resulting in major cuts at its papers, including California’s leading daily, the Los Angeles Times.
This latest round of cuts follows the loss of ten newsroom staffers last month through buyouts. No word yet on any layoffs at the chain’s 23 television stations.
From Lynne Marek of Crain’s Chicago Business:
The Chicago Tribune cut about 15 editorial employees today as the media company continues to shrink its newsroom.
The employees dismissed included reporters, editors and managers, according to sources familiar with the layoffs. They follow an employee buyout last month and a round of staff reductions in July.
The paper, the biggest in the city and a unit of Chicago-based Tribune Co., is creating a leaner workforce to reduce costs and revive profits as it prepares to exit bankruptcy later this year under its new creditor-owners.
“The Chicago Tribune does not publicly discuss internal personnel matters,” company spokesman Gary Weitman said. “Like most companies, the Tribune makes decisions about staff skills and composition based on customer needs and business conditions.”
Read the rest.
Layoffs begin today at Los Angeles Times
No idea yet how many will get the chop.
From Kevin Roderick of LA Observed:
The latest round of Los Angeles Times layoffs and other cuts began with at least one home phone call [Monday night]. Shari Roan, a health writer for the Times for 22 years, got the word that she’s on the list. She was a mainstay of the Health section that was recently eliminated.
Bad news in the City of Brotherly Love
Philadelphia’s metropolitan newspapers are on the auction block, and to sweeten the deal, layoffs are the order of the day.
From Mike Armstrong of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Philadelphia Media Network Inc. will lay off 19 unionized workers in its three newsrooms – four full-timers and 15 part-timers – and 21 additional newsroom employees have been approved for voluntary buyouts.
The layoffs of reporters, copy editors, multimedia content producers, and others at The Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com would occur March 31. Five nonunion employees from the three newsrooms, including three from The Inquirer, also were laid off, bringing the total number of jobs being lost to 45.
In a statement, PMN said the layoffs and buyouts were a response to “the unfortunate economic conditions that continue to impact” the newspaper industry.
PMN spokesman Mark Block would not discuss details of the financial condition of the company, citing its status as a privately held corporation. “The kind of revenue we have been generating has not been enough to sustain the personnel we have,” he said.
Read the rest.
More from Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press:
Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers will lose 40 more newsroom employees this month, prompting union leaders. . .to accuse management of bungling a tablet computer launch, censoring stories and deriding print newspapers as “legacy products.”
The losses are just the latest setback for staffers, who have gone through repeated rounds of cutbacks and might soon have their fifth owner in six years.
A group of local powerbrokers and philanthropists hopes to buy Philadelphia Media Network from the New York hedge funds that took control after a 2010 bankruptcy auction. The sale price has plummeted from $515 million in 2006 to $139 million in 2009 to perhaps less than $70 million this year.
The hedge funds installed former Newsweek.com executive Greg Osberg as publisher in late 2010. The guild attacked his leadership in a sharply worded memo Thursday.
Read the rest.
The Phily layoffs appear to be striking hard at the papers’ minority staff.
From Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute:
The National Association of Black Journalists promptly protested the departures of Sarah J. Glover, president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, and sportswriter John Mitchell.
“I am not entirely sure of the racial breakdown of the members but at leastSarah J. GloverSarah J. Glover three of those laid off and one of the volunteers who left only to be spared a layoff are journalists of color,” Dan Gross, Philadelphia Daily News reporter and president of the Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America Local 38010, told Journal-isms by email on Thursday.
Read the rest.
Alternative chain hacks away at journo staff
The whole notion of “alternative chain” is an oxymoron, a result of the relentless corporatization of the nation’s once free-wheeling and fiercely independent local alternatives to the corporate media of the 1960s and 1970s.
The latest round of cuts comes at the Creative Loafing chain — and how’s that for a corporate chain name?
From Rachel Kaufman of Media Jobs Daily:
Creative Loafing, the company that owns the Chicago Reader, City Paper, and Creative Loafing Atlanta, has announced cuts in staffing and pay at the three papers.
At CL Atlanta, four positions were let go. The paper is saying farewell Continue reading