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Tribune Publishing sharpens the ax

Meeting at U-T today to introduce employee buyout program

Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, parent company of the L.A. Times and Union-Tribune, announced today (October 5) that it will have a company-wide "Employee Voluntary Separation Program," an employee-buyout proposal. If enough people don't sign up, there will be layoffs.

Employees of the Union-Tribune, recently purchased by Tribune Publishing, will have a meeting this afternoon (Monday) at 3 p.m. Word of a buyout program has already reached employees, including the news staff and other areas of the company.

The biggest hit will be at the L.A. Times, according to CNN Money. At least 50 newsroom employees are slated to go off the payroll there, according to news reports. The Chicago headquarters has been feuding with Times management; the publisher, Austin Beutner, who was also publisher of the U-T, was axed last month.

Corporate results and the stock of Tribune Publishing have been falling, in concert with the decline of newspapers generally, particularly metropolitan dailies.

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Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, parent company of the L.A. Times and Union-Tribune, announced today (October 5) that it will have a company-wide "Employee Voluntary Separation Program," an employee-buyout proposal. If enough people don't sign up, there will be layoffs.

Employees of the Union-Tribune, recently purchased by Tribune Publishing, will have a meeting this afternoon (Monday) at 3 p.m. Word of a buyout program has already reached employees, including the news staff and other areas of the company.

The biggest hit will be at the L.A. Times, according to CNN Money. At least 50 newsroom employees are slated to go off the payroll there, according to news reports. The Chicago headquarters has been feuding with Times management; the publisher, Austin Beutner, who was also publisher of the U-T, was axed last month.

Corporate results and the stock of Tribune Publishing have been falling, in concert with the decline of newspapers generally, particularly metropolitan dailies.

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Comments
12

I hope they get rid of that idiot Michael Hiltzik. Let him go work for the Venezuela Times or become an economic advisor in Zimbabwe.

Oct. 5, 2015

jnojr: Hiltzik is well known but I don't think I have ever read anything by him. He got in trouble for making posts on his own blog using false names. It seems to me he won a Pulitzer. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 5, 2015

At some point, and I do think that it was passed a few years ago, news--real news of importance to the public--will go unreported for lack of reporters. The papers cannot just keep shrinking their news staffs and papers without something suffering. But given the economics of the industry, the papers cannot just go on losing money, losing advertisers, and losing subscribers and remain viable. The public should, but likely never will, recognize that it cannot stay informed if it does not support the news media. TV? Yeah, right. And, what the heck, who needs to be informed?

And so the newspaper industry continues to circle the drain.

I wonder when some of the more effective columnists at the Light News, Logan Jenkins and Dan McSwain in particular, will take the buy out. Perhaps the management realizes that strong columnists can keep that steadily-shrinking subscriber base alive. But I don't count on that.

Oct. 5, 2015

Visduh: Oh yes, newspapers are cutting into the bone. In the U-T, you see it in the absence of copy editors. Also, many areas, such as real estate, local company news, both performing and visual arts are not as thoroughly covered as they once were. That is true of other papers.

I wish I agreed with you that quality of the news/editorial product is what keeps circulation up. I would like to believe that. But I have been in the business a long time, and I really don't think that quality and integrity of the publication and it economic success are that closely related. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 5, 2015

When I expressed those sentiments, it was more in a vein of saying that those columnists might stave off the inevitable. The delivery situation in No County is weak, and subscribers are few and far apart. I despair for an electorate that lacks the tools once afforded by the newspapers, biased as so many were, in knowing anything about the candidates, ballot measures, or anything else. Will this new generation have any source for truth?

Oct. 5, 2015

Visduh: Oh yes, I agree with you. The U-T is not doing a service for participants in democracy, as it once did. But economic survival comes first. The news people get on the internet can be quite slanted and unreliable, and TV can't give depth coverage to many topics.

For example, many propositions are too complex to be conveyed by TV. One must read about the many variables, and ponder the whole package. This is true, for example, in the task force's proposal for a Chargers stadium. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 5, 2015

In a country designed upon a four-legged chair, removing one of them (the Fourth Estate) will not increase stability. Maybe everybody-as-journalist will work out somehow?

Tw

Oct. 5, 2015

Twister: In a way, the social media, particularly the internet, represent everybody-as-journalist. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 5, 2015

U-T EMPLOYEES MAY ESCAPE THE CHOPPING BLOCK, BUT THE COMPANY WILL CONSIDER BUYOUT PROPOSALS. THE U-T IS WEIGHING RELOCATING DOWNTOWN, BUT MAY STAY IN MISSION VALLEY. At the meeting this afternoon, U-T employees got a reprieve. Top management said there would not be a buyout or layoff plan at the paper. The blood will flow at the L.A. Times, where there will be 80 separations, either by buyout or layoff if necessary.

Caveat: I got this information indirectly -- not from someone who was at the meeting, but from someone who heard about it from someone who was there.

At the U-T, if an employee wants to make a buyout proposal, management will listen to it. If there is a buyout, the job will not be filled. This is reduction by attrition, if there are some buyout volunteers.

The company said that under previous management, revenue looked like it would be down 20 percent. That has been reduced to 8 percent since Tribune Publishing took over. The U-T is shooting for breakeven, but has no illusions about when that will come.

The U-T is considering moving downtown to a location on B Street, but it is still considering staying at its current Mission Valley location. If it goes downtown, it will arrange lower-price parking, but that would still be more expensive than the free parking employees get in Mission Valley. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 5, 2015

Moving downtown would be going full-circle, wouldn't it? But this downtown isn't the downtown that existed circa-1970 and before. The real action is out in the industrial/commercial suburbs now. I mean, what is headquartered downtown? Is it the social center of the county? Nope. The main thing it houses is the bloated local government, and even with that, much of the county government operates on Kearny Mesa. The workers would, I'm sure, prefer to stay in MV with the freeway access in all those directions, free parking, and for most a shorter commute from home.

Oct. 6, 2015

Visduh: Yes, the Union and Tribune were long based downtown. One of the big problems was getting the trucks out of downtown to deliver papers. That's why Mission Valley was a better location. And the company considered moving even further north at one point, but decided to spend the money on electronic advancements rather than a new building.

I am sure you are right about employees' preference: Mission Valley. But since when does management listen to employees? Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 6, 2015

A CHICAGO ICON IS UP FOR SALE. THAT'S A MONUMENT TO HOW BAD THINGS ARE. To a Chicagoan, the 36-story Tribune Tower is nearly a sacred monument. The building on Michigan Avenue was completed in 1925. The Chicago Tribune, now a sister paper of the San Diego Union-Tribune, is housed in that building. Now Tribune Tower is up for sale.

Tribune Media, the sister company of Tribune Publishing, owner of the U-T, said the sale is an economy move. The company called the attempted sale a "strategic monetization" alternative. That means Tribune Media is trying to create some more profits through financial engineering. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 9, 2015

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