San Diego Union-Tribune lays off 178, mostly in printing, delivery

Job cuts come five days after Tribune Publishing completed its purchase of the San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Union-Tribune said Tuesday that it was laying off 178 employees, about 30% of its staff, in a cost-cutting effort that mainly affected its printing and delivery operations.

The job cuts came five days after Tribune Publishing Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, completed its purchase of the San Diego newspaper. At the time of the acquisition, Tribune said it expected to consolidate some operations between the newspapers. Russ Newton, president and chief operating officer of the Union-Tribune, said the newspaper would move its print operations from San Diego to Los Angeles, where The Times is printed.

"One of the key drivers for this move is having the San Diego Union-Tribune printed on much better press equipment than it currently is," Newton said. "It will be a little bit better experience for the consumer."

About 100 of the layoffs were in the operations department, most of them truck drivers, machinists and pressroom workers, Newton said. There were also job cuts in circulation and advertising.

Jeff Light, editor of the Union-Tribune, said nine of 173 newsroom employees were let go — eight of them from U-T TV, its television operation.

"Readers of the paper should not notice any changes at all as a result of today's moves, but there will be some talented directors, producers and anchors on the job market," Light said in an email to The Times.

He said there are no plans for additional newsroom cuts.

The purchase is part of a broader strategy at Tribune Publishing — and across the newspaper industry — to buy publications in adjacent markets and increase revenue by consolidating printing, distribution and other operations.

Tribune Publishing, which also owns the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and other daily newspapers, paid $85 million in cash and stock to buy the Union-Tribune, eight community weeklies and related websites from real estate magnate Doug Manchester.

As part of the deal, Chicago-based Tribune Publishing created California News Group, which will oversee operations of Los Angeles Times Media Group and the Union-Tribune.

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Lori Weisberg, a staff writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, contributed to this report.

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