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Tribune to cut 700 jobs: Restructuring plan will impact LA Times

The Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A.
The Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

Tribune Co. said Wednesday it will cut about 700 jobs by the end of 2014.

Tribune, the owner of the Los Angeles Times and seven other daily newspapers, said the job cuts are part of a larger restructuring effort "to ensure the long-term vitality" of its publishing division. Tribune, which also owns broadcast stations, has announced plans to spin off its newspapers into a separate company.

No front-line reporters affected

Tribune's spokesman Gary Weitman told KPCC that there will be "no front-line reporters affected," but there will be "small reductions in other areas of editorial." 

"Out of respect for our employees we are not breaking down the reductions by business unit," Weitman said in an e-mail. "The expense savings will be taken over time and reflected in our financial filings." 

There are slightly more than 11,000 people who work at Tribune, Weitman said.

Tribune's CEO Peter Liguori wrote in a memo to employees on Wednesday that the company plans to consolidate the non-editorial functions of its publishing business, which includes its newspapers. The company plans to bring together the non-editorial areas by function, rather than geography. 

"To move forward productively, we must explore innovative ways to more efficiently operate our business," Liguori wrote.

New roles for LA Times managers

As part of the restructuring, some Los Angeles Times managers will be given new roles on Jan. 1, according to a memo sent to employees from L.A. Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein and Tribune Publishing CEO Tony Hunter.

Those appointments include the following Times managers:

Bill Nagel, who is executive vice president of business services at the Times, will become executive vice president of marketing for Tribune Publishing.

Russ Newton, who is senior vice president/operations and home delivery for the Los Angeles Times Media Group, will be Tribune Publishing's senior vice president of manufacturing.

Gwen Murakami will become executive vice president of human resources for Tribune Publishing. She currently is senior vice president of human resources for the Los Angeles Times Media.

The announcement comes just one day after the president and chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Times Media Group announced she was leaving at the end of the month.

The Los Angeles Times has already made some cost-cutting decisions earlier this year. It had a modest round of staff reductions in June and has offered buyouts to employees at its printing facility.

Tribune CEO describes strategy in memo to staff

Tribune CEO Peter Liguori outlined the strategy behind the restructuring plan in his memo to staff:

Today, we are announcing an organizational and strategic transformation designed to ensure the long-term vitality of Tribune's publishing business.  Our top priority every day is delivering outstanding journalism to our readers and great value to our advertisers, while running our business to proactively address the secular realities of the publishing industry.

To move forward productively, we must explore innovative ways to more efficiently operate our business. Specifically, we must take better advantage of Tribune's unique size and reach. To that end, we have decided to unify the non-editorial functions of our publishing businesses.

Aligning the non-editorial areas of our business units by function, rather than by geography, will allow us to better share best-practices, create efficiencies and maintain our local focus. This will enable us, in turn, to continue investing in the lifeblood of our business: best-in-class reporting, effective sales and digital growth.

Going forward, it is especially important that we invest more concertedly in our digital areas so we can get ahead of the quickly evolving, digital needs of our readers. We have appointed Bill Adee to lead a new team of people charged with authoring Tribune Publishing’s digital future. Later today, Eddy Hartenstein and Tony Hunter will announce the appointments of leaders in other key publishing areas such as advertising, marketing, manufacturing and distribution, and human resources.

Our long-time, local publishers and editors will continue leading their publishing businesses and newsrooms.  This new structure will afford our publishers, editors and their staffs greater opportunity to focus on what they do best-- servicing their local readers, advertisers and communities.

Creating these critical efficiencies and ensuring the long-term strength of our mastheads will, unfortunately, result in the selective reduction of our publishing staff.  It is always difficult to part with valued colleagues, particularly those at Tribune who have unwaveringly served our publishing businesses over the years. On behalf of the entire company, I thank them for their dedication, hard work and contributions.

I also want to thank the dozens of people across the company who have worked diligently with Eddy and Tony during the last several months to meticulously design Tribune Publishing's new operating structure.  I am confident that the functionally-driven organization we are announcing today will provide our publishing businesses with the focused leadership, resources and expertise they require to successfully navigate the challenges ahead while continuing to produce the best printed and digital news products in the country.