In an effort to stave off future job cuts, Tribune Publishing, the parent company of The Sun, Chicago Tribune and seven other newspapers, offered company-wide buyout offers today in a memo sent to managers.
The offer applies to full-time non-union employees with 10 years of service or more, and will be extended to union employees of the same tenure on Nov. 16, Maya A. Bordeaux, senior vice president of human resources, wrote in the memo. Workers will be notified on Nov. 28 if their “application is approved.”
“We hope to meet our financial targets through this buyout plan; however, if we don’t we may need to explore further workforce reductions,” she wrote.
The buyouts will not be offered to the New York Daily News, which already had its newsroom cut in half.
Previously known as tronc, Tribune Publishing has a well-documented history of buying up legacy media properties, only to cut resources while executives maintain six- or seven-figure salaries. (Full disclosure: I was an employee at City Paper, a former Tribune property, until it was closed.)
This round of cuts is the latest blow to newsrooms already starved for resources, including Baltimore’s paper of record.
“It’s one more troubling sign of disinvestment in our newsrooms,” said Sun reporter Scott Dance, the chair of the newsroom’s unit within the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. “It’s not really anything new or different than what we see at the end of many years, but the problem is these years and years of attrition cut into our ability to cover our communities.”
In a particularly callous move, Tribune Publishing Chairman and CEO Justin Dearborn, in a release of the company’s third quarter earnings, cited “the financial impact from the Capital Gazette tragedy” as one of the reasons for the company’s earnings.
He’s referring to June 28 of this year, when a man wielding a shotgun blasted his way into the newsroom and killed longtime journalists Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara and Wendi Winters, and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.
Dance said the reference is “beyond tone-deaf and disgusting.”
“It’s an insult to the people who died while simply doing their jobs for this company, and to their co-workers who are overworked as they continue to cope with the loss.”
On social media, many Baltimore Sun Media Group employees past and present echoed their disgust with Dearborn’s remarks.
Our company is offering buyouts after losing $4.2M in a recent quarter … and blaming it in part on costs associated with our colleagues being murdered.
1st of all, ?? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH ??
2nd of all, Justin Dearborn made $8,122,837 in 2016. https://t.co/4id1plaUbz pic.twitter.com/JwemwXN1yM
— Kevin Rector (@kevrector) November 9, 2018
This is hard to stomach: Tribune laying off journalists because it was expensive to have journalists murdered at The Capital newspaper.
This is no way to honor their lives. https://t.co/mvVHx4Dbhq
— Erin Cox (@ErinatThePost) November 9, 2018
This makes me feel so sick. Tribune has been good to us, but I didn’t know this was the cost. https://t.co/en1bMzsr8o
— Chase Cook (The tiels are Poe and Stanley) (@chaseacook) November 9, 2018
It is absolutely appalling that @tribpub is linking its desire to save money by forcing employees into buyouts to the murder of 5 of my colleagues in Annapolis in June. How callous and disrespectful. The company owes my friends in Annapolis an apology. https://t.co/38nebfQkxd
— Pamela Wood (@pwoodreporter) November 9, 2018
Today, the company formerly known as Tronc announced buyouts and potential layoffs. The Capital was not excluded from this announcement.
Later, I found out revenue shortfalls are being attributed to the massacre of my friends.
Justin, I think you forgot. https://t.co/OzDaz0hzYR
— Danielle Ohl (@DTOhl) November 9, 2018
According to multiple reports, the company is pursuing a merger with another newspaper chain, McClatchy Co.