80 L.A. layoffs may forebode Union-Tribune woes

County supervisors "strongly urge" Times be run by local or sold to L.A. interests

Austin Beutner (center) at the L.A. mayor's office
  • Austin Beutner (center) at the L.A. mayor's office

The bad news continues for Tribune Publishing, the underperforming corporate owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and other troubled newspapers.

The latest inside report, via Poynter.org, has it that 80 workers may soon be axed in L.A. in the interest of shaving $10 million off the newspaper's expenses.

“It’s the only way Jack will make his number,” the blog quoted a source as saying about company chief executive Jack Griffin.

Buyout offers would precede outright layoffs, according to Poynter’s source.

"Severance offered for the buyouts would be capped at one year. The proposal would be based on a formula that would offer one week for an employee’s first ten years of service, two weeks for the next ten years, and three weeks for having between 20 and 30 years, according to the executive,” the report says.

"If buyouts don’t generate the cost savings desired, the company would turn to layoffs."

No word on San Diego, where new publisher Tim Ryan, who replaced the fired Austin Beutner last week, may require more time to work his way through the personnel files of staffers, seeking to dump unproductive reporters and editors.

"The Los Angeles paper likely would not be alone in making reductions. Other Tribune papers are expected to face cuts, too," says the Poynter item. "It was unclear how the cuts would impact other Tribune properties."

As previously reported here, Ryan, who is also publisher of the L.A. Times, developed a reputation as a layoff czar as publisher of the Baltimore Sun, and despite talk of building an online business, the chain’s advertising revenues are said to be in a continuous slide.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution calling for Tribune Publishing to hire a local Times publisher or sell the paper to somebody local.

"The appointment of a publisher transferred from outside of the Los Angeles area, and the continued practice of having key decisions made by a body located approximately 1,750 miles and two time zones away, is clearly not in the best interest of operating, growing and nurturing a local newspaper," according to the motion to adopt the resolution by supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Mike Antonovich

"WHEREAS, recent decisions and developments within the publicly-traded parent company of the Los Angeles Times, Tribune Publishing Co., has removed local leadership and journalists from the publication who were firmly established in Los Angeles County, and who were present and fully invested in the future of Los Angeles County," says the resolution.

“THEREFORE, be it resolved, that the Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles County, strongly urge Tribune Publishing Co., the parent company of the Los Angeles Times, to restore local, established and invested leadership at the Los Angeles Times, and/or in the alternative, consider the sale of the Los Angeles Times to local, established and invested Los Angeles business leaders.”

The sudden interest of the politically oriented supervisors in the well-being and control of the city's newspaper was preceded by open letters from Los Angeles billionaire Democrat Eli Broad and associates. The communications bemoan Beutner's sudden ouster as editor in L.A. and San Diego, said to be linked to a failed attempt by Democrat Broad to acquire both papers.

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Losing another part of San Diego History. They have been circling and could go down anytime.

Wow! What a great severance package. Work for 30 years and get 3 weeks severance. I'll bet that doesn't apply to the upper management. There are Golden Handshakes and Golden parachutes for the few and Golden Showers for the rest.

Reminds me of the "trickle-down theory" of the Reagan years. That "trickle" was also yellow water! Thanks, Reagan, for nothing.

Perhaps this is the future of local and relevant news: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/politics/

And the dozen of us who read it are pioneers.

They don't even deliver my paper until 8:30 a.m. now. It used to be 4:30 a.m. And I subscribe to the L.A. Times and San Diego U-T... which used to both be at the gate before 5:00 a, most of the time. So there is a generally feeling of malaise at many parts of the organization. When you can't even keep the paying subscribers happy, how are you going to convince advertisers that you are still a relevant channel to reach the consumer?

On a side note, nobody seems to get the paper anymore. On my street, I am the only one that the "paper-boy" delivers the papers to. The print business model is clearly dead.

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