Poynter.org reports that Tribune is looking to trim expenses by $10 million by cutting up to 80 positions from the LAT newsroom, representing around 16% of the total 500 editorial staff.
Staff reductions are also expected at Tribune’s other properties, including the flagship Chicago Tribune and major regional dailies like The Baltimore Sun.
Tribune will first offer voluntary buyouts to staff to reduce headcount, before resorting to layoffs if necessary. The newspaper’s new publisher, Tim Ryan, oversaw major cuts at The Baltimore Sun, his previous post.
The planned cuts were apparently involved in the dispute between Beutner and Tribune/s corporate management that led to his firing. In Beutner’s social media post announcing his sudden departure, the former publisher noted: “Cost-cutting alone is not a path to survival in the face of continued declines in print revenue and fierce competition in the digital world.”
Beutner had spearheaded a strategy of boosting local engagement with more detailed reporting on the LA community.
Beutner also apparently clashed with Trib leadership over his resistance to central control from Chicago and (perhaps most of all) his attempts to get Tribune to sell the LAT to billionaire Eli Broad.
After his firing, over 50 movers and shakers from the LA business and civic scene signed a letter criticizing Tribune’s decision and urging the company to restore local control of the newspaper.
This week, former LAT publisher Tom Johnson added his voice to the chorus with a letter to Beutner thanking him for his “splendid leadership,” calling the firing “tragic and very sad,” and echoing the call for Tribune to sell the newspaper: “If Tribune implements another round of severe expense cuts, that action likely will weaken rather than strengthen The Times. I so hope that Tribune ultimately will recognize the critical need to place The Times back into Southern California ownership.”