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Salt Lake Tribune cuts nine journalists from newsroom staff

Published May 9, 2012 7:05 pm

Media • Revenue losses, readers' move to digital devices prompt restructuring.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday laid off nine newsroom employees as it continues to cope with weak advertising revenue and falling print circulation.

The layoffs, 7.5 percent of the newsroom staff, reduce the number of journalists employed at Utah's largest newspaper to 119 people, Deputy Editor Tim Fitzpatrick said.

Five of those laid off were assigned to the paper's copy desk. Four worked at other duties in the newsroom.

"We are sorry to see them go," Editor Nancy Conway said in a message to staffers. "These folks, like everyone in the newsroom, have contributed to the strength of The Salt Lake Tribune and served readers all across the state of Utah.

"We are grateful for their good work, thank them, and wish them well."

Conway said a convergence of social, economic and business forces made it necessary to reduce the size of the newsroom. The newspaper industry hasn't developed a new business model that stems the erosion of advertising dollars necessary to support existing news operations and reverse the loss of readers who are turning to digital devices for news and other information they can access for free. The Tribune has made large strides toward serving readers electronically, but hasn't been able to adequately convert into revenue its growing online readership, Fitzpatrick said.

"We've all watched newspapers around the country trimming staffs, cutting newshole and making savings where they can," Conway said. "You and I know that market and social changes make that a necessity. Until now, we have been able to make select cuts and savings through attrition that kept us apace of where we needed to be.

"That is no longer the case."

The process in which news stories are edited and presented will be restructured as a result of the reductions, she said.

Copy-editing and page-design functions, along with some copy editors and designers, will be integrated with existing news-gathering and content-producing teams to create five independent news hubs, she said.

The changes will not undercut The Tribune's output of news and enterprise journalism that readers expect, Conway said.

"We are on solid ground, and we continue to do our job. We have fewer people but we will still be covering the news aggressively — and covering everything," she said.

The affected employees have been offered severance packages, Fitzpatrick said.

pbeebe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribpaul