Another large metropolitan daily newspaper is folding its print edition and opting for online-only distribution. This week, Trib Total Media, the publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, announced it will cease publishing the print version of its flagship newspaper effective December 1, at which point it will become a purely digital publication.
Last year, Trib Total Media revealed plans to merge three of its main publications, combining the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Greensburg Tribune-Review and the Valley News Dispatch into a single newspaper with three separate editions. It also laid off 153 employees in conjunction with the consolidation.
At the same time it took a 40% stake in Newsmax Media, an online news publisher with a conservative editorial stance, through a new affiliate, 535 Media.
In its most recent announcemen,t the company said it will continue publishing the two editions of the Tribune-Review serving Greensburg and Tarentum, PA, and also plans to boost their coverage of local news and sports. Meanwhile, the Tribune-Review will cease publishing its print edition in Pittsburgh, although the newspaper will continue to be available for free online.
As part of the move to fold the print edition, the publisher is laying off 106 workers, many involved with production and distribution. Previously, in July, 95 employees accepted a buyout offer, making this the third big round of cuts at the publisher in less than a year.
The closure of the Tribune-Review’s print edition leaves Pittsburgh with one print newspaper, the longtime rival Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, owned by Block Communications.
The decision to shutter the print edition comes amid an ongoing court battle over the estate of former publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, who owned the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and several other local newspapers in Pennsylvania before passing away in 2014.
According to documents revealed in this and previous legal filings, Scaife poured around $450 million into frequently unprofitable businesses, most prominently the Tribune-Review, over a span of several decades. The lawsuit was brought by Scaife’s son and daughter against three trustees who oversaw the fund and acquiesced to Scaife’s plans over the years.
Acknowledging these developments, Trib Toral president and CEO Jennifer Bertetto admitted: “It’s a competitive market and the Pittsburgh edition always lost money. With the death of our owner, we can no longer afford to subsidize it.”