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The USA Today-ification of the Tribune Company

The Tribune Company, owners of the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune (among others) announced big cuts in number of pages and newsroom staff:

Mr. Michaels said that, after measuring journalists’ output, “when you get into the individuals, you find out that you can eliminate a fair number of people while eliminating not very much content.” He added that he understood that some reporting jobs naturally produce less output than others.
He said that The Los Angeles Times produced 51 pages of news for each journalist there, while the figure for two other Tribune papers, The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant, is more than 300 pages. It was not clear whether that meant the ax would fall harder in Los Angeles, or whether the cuts would include Newsday, which Tribune has agreed to sell to Cablevision for $650 million.
The new approach would save on newsroom and newsprint costs, which together typically account for 25 percent to 30 percent of a newspaper’s operating costs.

And a company wide re-design is on the way, starting with the Orlando Sentinel:

In his note to employees, Mr. Zell wrote that Tribune papers would be redesigned, beginning with The Orlando Sentinel, on June 22. Surveys show readers want “maps, graphics, lists, ranking and stats,” he wrote. “We’re in the business of satisfying customers, and we will respond to what they say they want.”

In other words, local versions of USA Today. Good luck with that.

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