Monday, July 14, 2008

Newspaper Bellwether

The Tribune Co. has had two flagship employees -- Chicago Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski and Los Angeles Times publisher David Hiller -- resign this week in the wake of further, sharp cuts in jobs:
Tribune Co. is cutting costs to offset declines in advertising and circulation revenue that have sharpened this year for most newspapers in the United States.

Hiller, who stepped down after 21 months at the helm of Tribune Co.'s largest paper, was the paper's third publisher since Tribune bought it in 2000....

The paper plans to cut 250 positions, including 150 in the print and online news departments, and reduce its weekly page count by 15 percent. Some sections will be eliminated and stories are to run shorter....

The Sun plans to stop printing business news in a separate section at the end of this month, and the Sentinel has changed its layout to include more graphics and charts, and it has reduced news staff.

Newspaper revenues and circulation have shrunk as readers -- with advertisers in tow -- increasingly move online. Advertisers spend online a small fraction of what they used to pay newspapers for prime ad space.

Hiller took over as Times publisher after Johnson publicly criticized measures to cost-cutting measures including reducing the paper's foreign coverage.

Hiller then forced out editor Dean Baquet, who also opposed the cutbacks. In January, Times editor James O'Shea stepped down, also in protest of cuts that Tribune had ordered. He was the third editor to leave the paper since 2005. The paper's current editor is Russ Stanton.

Tribune Co. Chief Operating Officer Randy Michaels told lenders on a conference call last month that the company can save a lot of money by trimming staff and "rightsizing" its newspapers. Michaels said Tribune executives were evaluating the productivity of individual journalists with an eye toward cutbacks.

A spokesman said Lipinski's departure is not related to the cutbacks.

Yeah, right.

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