April 22, 2009 / 7:57 PM / 10 years ago

Chicago Tribune cuts 11 pct of newsroom jobs

* Chicago Tribune sheds 53 employees

* Newspaper focusing efforts on local coverage

By Robert MacMillan

NEW YORK, April 22 (Reuters) - The Chicago Tribune, the hometown newspaper of the bankrupt Tribune Co TRBCQ.PK, cut 53 editorial employees, or about 11 percent of its newsroom staff, to save money and focus its efforts on local news.

The cuts bring the paper’s newsroom team to about 430 people, according to a memo from Tribune Editor Gerould Kern. That is down from about 670 more than three years ago, the Tribune reported in an article on its website on Wednesday.

Previous reports in the Chicago Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business had put the cuts at 20 percent of the newsroom staff. A Chicago Tribune spokeswoman declined to say if the Tribune cut jobs outside the newsroom.

It is the latest round of layoffs to hit Tribune, which like many other U.S. newspapers is shedding staff and cutting other costs to survive an exodus of readers of their print editions, along with the advertisers who want to reach them.

“This process comes with pain: 53 of our friends and colleagues will be leaving the Chicago Tribune as a consequence of changing priorities,” Kern wrote in the memo.

The newspaper plans to expand its local news operation and establish a new “watchdog unit” to increase consumer and investigative coverage, Kern wrote. Much of the shift involves online news, and Kern said the newspaper’s digital staff was growing.

The Tribune competes in Chicago with another city daily, the Chicago Sun-Times. Its parent company, Sun-Times Media Group SUTMQ.PK, also is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The cuts come during the quarterly financial results season for many companies, including newspapers. Publishers such as USA Today owner Gannett Co Inc (GCI.N) and The New York Times Co (NYT.N) have reported some of the worst declines in advertising revenue that U.S. newspapers have experienced.

This year has proven to be pivotal for the U.S. newspaper business. Some big-city dailies, including EW Scripps Co’s SSP.N Rocky Mountain News, have closed. Hearst Corp’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer has stopped its print edition and has an online edition that is far smaller than the printed newspaper was.

Others, like the New York Times-owned Boston Globe and Hearst’s San Francisco Chronicle, face the threat of shutdown. (Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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