Commentary

Tribune's Newsroom Buyouts Should Help To Avoid Layoffs

Tribune Publishing’s buyout offer to newsroom employees has trimmed staff by an estimated 10% since April, when hedge fund Alden Global Capital took control of the company in a deal valued at $630 million. Those buyouts should help the newspaper publisher to avoid layoffs as the new owner looks to cut costs. 

More than 100 employees, including union and non-union staff, were approved for buyouts, according to a report by Rick Edmonds, the media business analyst for the Poynter Institute. His estimates are based on data compiled by the NewsGuild, which has chapters in every Tribune newsroom except at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  

The Chicago Tribune, the publisher’s flagship newspaper, experienced the biggest reduction with 24 departures from its newsroom, or 22% of its union staff. An additional 16 non-union workers were granted buyouts at the paper. Last month, union workers at the paper complained they felt abandoned by the NewsGuild amid buyout negotiations
Among the recent buyouts at other Tribune papers, The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press lost eight union workers for a 17% drop, while seven people left The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennyslvania, for a 22% decline, according to the NewsGuild. The Sun-Sentinel didn’t disclose its buyout numbers. 
The full tally of buyouts is likely even greater with the departure of editors and non-union workers, as Edmonds notes. 
Tribune Publishing in the past decade has been through relentless rounds of downsizing, including the elimination of 800 jobs in 2015. That year, about 500 employees accepted Tribune’s buyout offer, or 7% percent of its total work force, amid a sweeping restructuring plan. 
 

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