Tribune Co papers hit where it hurts, Baltimore Sun slashed

April 29, 2009

Tribune Co keeps the layoffs coming at its newspapers as the media company moves through the bankruptcy court process.

The Sun: Over in Baltimore, we heard from a source that 21 editors — including most of the metro editing staff and two top editorial editors — were herded into offices and told they had to exit the building immediately. Editor & Publisher confirms this report and says more cuts might be coming as soon as today. Perhaps there’s a strategy in there, but it’s hard to tell what it is when most big-city dailies have abandoned their ambitious overseas reporting goals, saying their real value to the community is their local reporting franchise. UPDATE: Looks like at least 40 more people are getting laid off as we speak, according to two sources I just spoke to at 3pm eastern.

And another UPDATE: A Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild memo says a whopping 27 percent of the Sun’s staff is getting laid off.

Excerpt from the memo:

“Tribune, through careless management practices, has saddled itself under $13 billion in debt and now Baltimore is paying a price,” said Cet Parks, Executive Director of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. “Tribune is siphoning good jobs from Baltimore and sending work that talented editors, reporters, photographers, copy editors and designers have done here to its home base in Chicago. That is not right.”

Tribune plans to lay off the 40 newsroom employees by May 27. Targeted employees, who include four columnists, photographers, critics and copy editors, received hand delivered letters Wednesday afternoon signed by Monty Cook, senior vice president and editor. Also, in the last two weeks The Sun has laid off seven employees in other departments including advertising and customer service.

Chicago Tribune: The paper said last week that it would cut 11 percent of its newsroom staff. Today’s edition of the Gorkana business journalist career moves e-mail shows that, among others, the Tribune is losing Joshua Boak, financial exchanges and energy reporter. We don’t know if it’s because of the layoffs or if he’s just leaving, but either way, it’s a heck of a time to lose the exchanges beat reporter at one of the hometown papers of the world’s largest futures exchanges.

In other recent examples of unusual layoff situations (there are so many that it’s impossible to count them all here), remember

  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Suburban Journals of St. Louis reporter who lost his job after taking a bullet for the team.
  • The two East Valley Tribune (Arizona) reporter who lost his job before he won a Pulitzer Prize.

Any other weird/bizarre/unfortunate circumstances surrounding journalist layoffs that you know about? Tell us about them.

(Photo: Reuters)


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The Guild needs to stop kvetching and start organizing its laid-off workers into nonprofit reporting units.

It’s ridiculous that we keep reading different versions of this story from around the country without seeing accompanying stories about how the 20 or 30 or (in this case) 40 laid-off people turned right around and started a blog full of the solid investigative reporting that those employees supposedly wish they could do.

Considering that there are still dozens of great former Examiner employees floating around Baltimore, if the Guild can’t step up on this one and create at least one solid nonprofit news entity, they need to seriously consider disbanding.

Posted by Tom Walsh | Report as abusive

Todd Smith was laid off from the Suburban Journals of St. Louis, not the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Both are owned by Lee Enterprises. The Journals laid off 14 other employees the same day.

Erica – That was my mistake. I’m sorry. I’m going to correct that. Thanks,

I still enjoy reading the newspaper with a cup of srong coffee in the morning—apparently generation X does not.
Chili, Baltimore

Posted by GaryE | Report as abusive