Tribune Co., the parent of the Los Angeles Times, on Wednesday unveiled a restructuring plan that will slash nearly 700 jobs over the next year.
The 6% staff reduction will come primarily from the company’s beleaguered newspaper unit, but will largely involve operations personnel rather than reporters and editors at its eight daily papers, Peter Liguori, Tribune’s chief executive, said in an interview.
The restructuring is intended to help Tribune withstand the ongoing decline in print advertising, which traditionally has been the lifeblood of the newspaper industry.
“Over time, there will be some small reductions in editorial staff, but the majority of these reductions are going to come from non-reader-facing functions,” Liguori said. “It’s never easy to let go of our colleagues, especially in Tribune, where people have made real significant contributions. But it is critical that we recognize what is going on secularly and we position the business for the best future we can.”
The reorganization is “not by any means a Hail Mary pass,” Liguori said, stressing that the newspapers are profitable.
In the reorganization, functions that are now managed by individual papers, such as advertising and circulation, will be consolidated into single units across the company.
Tribune promoted several executives in the newspaper unit to manage the newly consolidated departments.
Bill Adee will oversee the publishing division's digital operations. Bob Fleck, currently a senior vice president of advertising at the Chicago Tribune, will become executive vice president of advertising for the newspaper unit.
Bill Nagel, currently executive vice president of business services at The Times, will have the new role of executive vice president of marketing for the publishing unit. He will oversee all consumer marketing and circulation operations, as well as brand marketing, market research and events management.
Tribune reported a nearly $50-million profit in the third quarter, but that came largely from cost cutting amid a further erosion in newspaper advertising.
The company aggressively cut costs, with operating expenses dropping $47 million, or 7%, to $626 million. The newspaper division slashed $61 million while costs rose in other parts of the company.