Tribune Company Cutbacks, Lay-offs, and Off-shoring. Doesn’t it realize it’s killing Journalism?

So driven to please Wall Street, the Tribune Company is further wrecking what’s left of the editorial vitality in their already journalistically-battered newspapers. Look what’s happened to the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, and Newsday. These and other Tribune outlets have witnessed a departure of fine reporters and editors, including award winners (such as Pulitzers). Morale at the Tribune papers is understandably low. The message is clear: they don’t want to spend the money it takes to do serious journalism. Now this chain is even dismissing many U.S. employees as it outsources its circulation/customer service to the Philippines. Meanwhile, the Tribune Company is engaged in a lobbying [registration may be required] and PR effort to scuttle federal media ownership safeguards. It wants to end the key newspaper-TV cross-ownership rule, designed to ensure a community gets diverse sources of news and information. Tribune execs are telling policymakers that by being allowed to own more TV stations, it will help journalism. They are lying. They just want more of that easy money coming from the TV business. Company financials extol the profits made via such Tribune Entertainment productions as “Beastmaster” and “Mutant X.” Owning more TV stations, if the FCC axes the rule Tribune has targeted, won’t help journalism. But it will likely help them distribute a new round of Beastmasters.

We hope the FCC and Congress take notice. Weakening media ownership rules has permitted a Tribune to grow in size and power—but without any meaningful public interest quid pro quo. The Tribune should be ashamed of itself, in terms of a lack of commitment to journalism and also for its cutting back on employing people who live in the U.S.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

2 thoughts on “Tribune Company Cutbacks, Lay-offs, and Off-shoring. Doesn’t it realize it’s killing Journalism?”

  1. Honestly, as an employee of one of the television stations owned by Tribune, I think Dennis FitzSimmons and the Board of Directors should cut their own salaries before laying off employees. Dennis currently makes over $3.5 million a year, plus bonuses. It’s about time that CEOs are paid based on their performance. The company has steadily lost revenue, been involved in circulation and advertising scandals, and generally made poor business decisions since he took over as CEO. Had a Writer, Graphic Artist, Production Specialist or any other employee at one of his newspapers or television stations made an error that lost even a fraction of the money he has cost the company, they would have surely been fired. But, instead of personally taking responsibility for the failed performance of the company, FitzSimmons and the Board of Directors continue to lay off the most important resource the company has…it’s employees. Without talented people, Tribune does not stand a chance. If FitzSimmons and the Board of Directors feel they are doing a good job, then perhaps it’s that Tribune has become too large and unmanageable. If that’s the case, then they should split the Company instead of jeopardizing the quality of journalism that Tribune is known for.

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