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Chicago Tribune to Cut 100 jobs by End of March

February 13, 2008
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The Chicago Tribune will cut about 100 jobs, or roughly 3.5 percent of its workforce, by the end of March, the paper’s publisher told employees on Wednesday, February 13.

Most of the affected positions across the company would be in so-called support areas, such as finance, human resources and technology. The cuts are part of a companywide staff reduction—the first since Sam Zell took over the media conglomerate late last year in an $8.2 billion buyout, the Tribune reported on its Web site.

Tribune publisher Scott Smith said the reductions would come through layoffs, buyouts or other means.

In a memo to staff, Smith said total revenue for the Chicago Tribune Media Group was down 5 percent in January and cash flow was down more than last year’s 8 percent drop-off, the Tribune reported.

“The near-term outlook shows few signs of improvement,” Smith noted.

Zell said in his own note to employees, according to a posting of the memo on the media industry-specific Romenesko site at Poynter.org, “We are creating a flatter organizational structure, eliminating layers of personnel that inadvertently created bureaucracy. The result will be a streamlined culture that accelerates our decision making and enables us to act quickly.”

The Los Angeles Times reported the total reduction amounts to about 400 to 500 positions across Tribune Co. newspapers.

Zell said in his memo that it would take more than a few months to “turn this ship from its course of the past 10 years.”

“Further, while I will do everything in my power to drive, pull and drag this company forward, I can’t promise we won’t see additional position eliminations in the future, if we continue at our current rate of cash-flow decline,” he said.

The Tribune Co. chairman added that layoffs were not his ultimate strategy for the company.

“I believe we can achieve greatness,” Zell said. “I have staked my reputation on it.”

This story was originally filed by Crain’s Chicago Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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