Tribune to Cut Nearly 700 Newspaper Jobs as Part of Restructuring

The 6 percent staff reduction will come primarily from the company’s newspaper unit

Tribune Co., the parent company of the LA Times, is cutting nearly 700 jobs, mostly across its eight newspapers, the company said on Wednesday.

The reorganization will primarily involve operations personnel rather than reporters and editors. Functions now managed by individual papers, including advertising and circulation, will be consolidated into single units across the company.

The announcement comes a day after Kathy Thomson stepped down as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Times.

Also read: Kathy Thomson Stepping Down as President and COO of Los Angeles Times

“Over time, there will be some small reductions in editorial staff, but the majority of these reductions are going to come from non-reader-facing functions,” Liguori said in a story on the reorg posted by the L.A. Times. “It’s never easy to let go of our colleagues, especially in Tribune, where people have made real significant contributions. But it is critical that we recognize what is going on secularly and we position the business for the best future we can.”

Ligouri added that the move is not a desperation play, saying it’s “not by any means a Hail Mary pass.”

Tribune reported a nearly $50-million profit in the third quarter, but that came largely from cost cutting, the paper said.

Also read: Tribune Co. Posts a Profit, but Revenues Still Falling

According to the Times, Bob Fleck, currently Senior Vice President, Advertising for Chicago Tribune, will assume the new role of Executive Vice President of Advertising for Tribune Publishing, the company’s senior-most advertising position.

Bill Nagel, currently Executive Vice President, Business Services at The Los Angeles Times will be appointed to the new role of Executive Vice President of Marketing for Tribune Publishing. Joseph Schlitz, currently Senior Vice President of Marketing & Targeted Media for Chicago Tribune will assume the new role of Senior Vice President, Marketing & Targeted Media.

Bill Adee, Emily Smith, and Barb Healy, will each take on expanded, companywide responsibilities for key dimensions of digital strategy and operations, Tribune Digital.

Russ Newton, now Senior Vice President/Operations & Home Delivery for Los Angeles Times Media becomes Tribune Publishing’s Senior Vice President of Manufacturing. Bob Thomas, currently Vice President, Distribution Fulfillment, Chicago Tribune will lead companywide Distribution operations as Senior Vice President of Distribution.

Also read: Tribune Denies $100M Cut Ordered by CEO

In a memo to employees, posted by LA Observed, Tribune’s chief executive Peter Liguori cast the cutbacks as “selective reduction of our publishing staff.”

Here is the full memo:

Today, we are announcing an organizational and strategic transformation designed to ensure the long-term vitality of Tribune’s publishing business. Our top priority every day is delivering outstanding journalism to our readers and great value to our advertisers, while running our business to proactively address the secular realities of the publishing industry.

To move forward productively, we must explore innovative ways to more efficiently operate our business. Specifically, we must take better advantage of Tribune’s unique size and reach. To that end, we have decided to unify the non-editorial functions of our publishing businesses.

Aligning the non-editorial areas of our business units by function, rather than by geography, will allow us to better share best-practices, create efficiencies and maintain our local focus. This will enable us, in turn, to continue investing in the lifeblood of our business: best-in-class reporting, effective sales and digital growth.

Going forward, it is especially important that we invest more concertedly in our digital areas so we can get ahead of the quickly evolving, digital needs of our readers. We have appointed Bill Adee to lead a new team of people charged with authoring Tribune Publishing’s digital future. Later today, Eddy Hartenstein and Tony Hunter will announce the appointments of leaders in other key publishing areas such as advertising, marketing, manufacturing and distribution, and human resources.

Our long-time, local publishers and editors will continue leading their publishing businesses and newsrooms. This new structure will afford our publishers, editors and their staffs greater opportunity to focus on what they do best– servicing their local readers, advertisers and communities.

Creating these critical efficiencies and ensuring the long-term strength of our mastheads will, unfortunately, result in the selective reduction of our publishing staff. It is always difficult to part with valued colleagues, particularly those at Tribune who have unwaveringly served our publishing businesses over the years. On behalf of the entire company, I thank them for their dedication, hard work and contributions.

I also want to thank the dozens of people across the company who have worked diligently with Eddy and Tony during the last several months to meticulously design Tribune Publishing’s new operating structure. I am confident that the functionally-driven organization we are announcing today will provide our publishing businesses with the focused leadership, resources and expertise they require to successfully navigate the challenges ahead while continuing to produce the best printed and digital news products in the country.