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UPDATE 1-Tribune job cuts highlight bad year for newspapers
(Adds details on Hartford Courant job cuts, background, byline)
NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) - Tribune Co will cut jobs at The Sun in Baltimore and Hartford Courant as the company struggles with falling advertising revenue, making it the latest publisher to trim staff in one of the worst years yet for the newspaper business.
The Sun will lose 100 jobs, 60 of them in the newsroom, the Baltimore Newspaper Guild said in a statement on Wednesday, while the Courant will cut about 60 jobs, the paper reported on its website.
A Tribune spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
The cuts are part of Tribune's plan to avoid defaulting on its loans as it races to sell off properties and aggressively slash costs. Tribune agreed in May to sell its Newsday paper to Cablevision Systems Corp (CVC.N) for about $650 million.
The cuts come after Tribune said it would cut jobs at two of its other big papers, the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. They also come on the same day Cox Newspapers announced 300 job cuts at the Palm Beach Post in Florida.
The job losses are the latest incidents in what is shaping up to be a bloody summer for U.S. papers. With advertisement revenue falling at unprecedented levels as people move to the Internet and wider economic woes gouge advertising budgets, newspaper publishers are shedding staff as fast as they can.
Last week, Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee publisher McClatchy Co (MNI.N) said it would get rid of about 10 percent of its staff. Other publishers lightening their payroll include Media General Inc (MEG.N), publisher of the Tampa Tribune and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, as well as The New York Times (NYT.N) and The Washington Post (WPO.N).
The Boston Herald, meanwhile, said it would lay off 130 to 160 workers under a plan to outsource printing operations following a drop in circulation. Its larger competitor, the New York Times-owned Boston Globe has proposed reducing wages by 10 percent, the paper reported.
The Boston Newspaper Guild said in the article the Globe's union leaders unanimously oppose the idea.
The Sun's cuts will come in the form of lay-offs, buyouts, not filling vacated jobs and closing open positions, the company said separately in a memo to employees seen by Reuters.
Buyout packages will be available to employees by June 27, said the union, which represents about 400 employees. Involuntary cuts will begin in early August, the company said.
The action come on the heels of two separate buyouts in March and last June which eliminated 45 jobs.
Like the rest of the newspaper industry Tribune newspaper circulation and advertising has plunged amid a rocky economic climate and marketers allotting a bigger share of their budgets to online advertising.
On Wednesday, Tribune also said it will explore "strategic options" for its Tribune Tower in downtown Chicago and Times Mirror Square in downtown Los Angeles, which could include selling the buildings.
Tribune is also embarking on a plan to remake the look of its newspapers to court and attract more readers. Part of its plan, which would save money on production, is to achieve a 50-50 mix of advertising and copy at its papers. Some of this, Tribune previously warned, could result in job losses.
"These actions are necessary for us to remain competitive and win in the future, and will enable us to create new targeted print and interactive media for the marketplace that satisfy both consumers and advertisers," the memo said.
The union fired back.
"Baltimore Sun employees are being punished for Tribune's mismanagement," Cet Parks, chief negotiator for the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, said in a statement. "Tribune's answer to solving declining circulation and readership is to slash employees from the payroll and cut the news hole, salaries and benefits. (Editing by Anshuman Daga)
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