In yet another sign of the continuing downward pressure on newspaper industry revenues, Tribune Publishing offered buyouts to non-union employees across the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and its other media holdings on Monday in a bid to cut costs.
The buyouts would give employees one week of base pay for every year of employment up to 10 years, two weeks for 11 to 20 years and three weeks for years 21 and up, with a cap at a year’s pay.
Employees have until Oct. 23 to apply for the plan.
“The senior management team and I recognize that each employee makes important contributions to our company,” Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin said in a memo to employees. “At the same time, in the challenging revenue environment that all publishing companies face, it is critical that we make hard decisions and take the necessary steps that continue to position Tribune Publishing Company for success over the long term.”
A Tribune Publishing spokesman declined to comment.
The buyout offer comes during a tumultuous time for Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, which has seen its stock price plunge in the wake of a controversial leadership change at the Los Angeles Times and lowered financial guidance.
Austin Beutner was fired as publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune on Sept. 8. He was replaced by Timothy Ryan, a former Chicago Tribune executive who more recently served as publisher of the company’s Baltimore Sun Media Group.
Tribune Publishing issued revised financial guidance for 2015 on Sept. 18, lowering full-year revenue estimates by about $25 million to between $1.645 billion and $1.675 billion. The company also lowered adjusted earnings estimates by about $17.5 million to between $145 million and $160 million.
The company said the California News Group, which includes the Times and Union-Tribune, was primarily responsible for the downward revisions. Tribune Publishing acquired the Union-Tribune for $85 million in May.
Newspaper ad revenue fell nearly 13 percent in the second quarter, according to Kantar Media, a trend that shows no sign of abating. Tribune Publishing’s revenue has fallen consistent with the industry, but the company has remained in the black, mostly through cost cutting.
Tribune Publishing owns 11 major daily newspapers and has about 7,000 employees. The publishing company spun off from Tribune Media, which retained higher-margin broadcasting assets and real estate holdings, in August 2014.