Buyouts com­ing at the firm be­hind Chicago Tri­bune and LA Times

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS - BY TALI AR­BEL

The owner of the Los An­ge­les Times, Chicago Tri­bune and other news­pa­pers is of­fer­ing buyouts to em­ploy­ees.

Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing an­nounced the “Vol­un­tary Sep­a­ra­tion Pro­gram” in a memo to em­ploy­ees that was ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press on Mon­day. The memo says the news­pa­per pub­lisher needs to re­duce costs but does not spec­ify by how much.

The memo said that non-union em­ploy­ees with more than a year of ser­vice are el­i­gi­ble for a buy­out. They have un­til Oct. 23 to de­cide whether to ap­ply. As of De­cem­ber, Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing had about 8,000 full- and part-time em­ploy­ees, and 12 per­cent of them were rep­re­sented by unions.

Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing Tri­bune spokesman Matt Hutchi­son de­clined to com­ment Mon­day on the buyouts.

The news­pa­per in­dus­try has suf­fered years of job losses with the shift to the Web and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing de­cline of print ad rev­enue.

Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing, which was cre­ated when Tri­bune split its news­pa­per and broad­cast­ing as­sets last year, has been in tur­moil af­ter the fir­ing of Los An­ge­les Times pub­lisher Austin Beut­ner in early Septem­ber. Beut­ner, a for­mer in­vest­ment banker and deputy L.A. mayor, was hired as pub­lisher in Au­gust 2014. He was re­placed by Ti­mothy Ryan, who had been pub­lisher of the Bal­ti­more Sun, another Tri­bune pa­per.

Prom­i­nent Los An­ge­les res­i­dents, in­clud­ing for­mer may­ors Richard Rior­dan and An­to­nio Vil­laraigosa, protested the fir­ing of Beut­ner in an open let­ter that urged Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing to “con­tinue with lead­er­ship that knows and loves Los An­ge­les.” The Los An­ge­les County Board of Su­per­vi­sors also got in­volved, say­ing it rec­om­mended lo­cal lead­er­ship.

The Los An­ge­les Times had re­ported that Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing re­jected an of­fer from a lo­cal phi­lan­thropist, Eli Broad, to buy the Times and the San Diego Union-Tri­bune from Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing.

Then, in late Septem­ber, Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing cut its out­look for the year, cit­ing lower ex­pec­ta­tions for rev­enue and de­layed cost cuts, par­tic­u­larly in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The com­pany de­fended re­plac­ing Beut­ner with Ryan, say­ing he was the ideal choice to lead the Cal­i­for­nia pa­pers, as he is com­mit­ted to Tri­bune’s goals.

Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing owns 11 ma­jor daily news­pa­pers.

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