Owner: Sun-Times Media Group
Effective: April 17, 2009
The managing editor, business editor and 4 other newsroom employees were laid off, as well as an unknown number of advertising employees.
Source: Chicago Tribune
By Sandra M. Jones | Tribune reporter
5:52 PM CDT, April 17, 2009
The Sun-Times Media Group cut an undisclosed number of jobs late this week as part of the newspaper company’s effort to trim payroll costs by 15 percent, according to a memo obtained by the Chicago Tribune.
The layoffs occurred Thursday and Friday and affected non-union employees, the internal memo said.
Management, advertising and suburban newsrooms that don’t belong to the newspaper guild felt the brunt of the cuts, according to people familiar with the layoffs.
“I will not mince words or sugarcoat decisions,” Jeremy L. Halbreich, chairman of the board and interim CEO of the Chicago-based media company, said in the memo. “Everyone at [the Sun Times Media Group] is now fully aware that we are in a difficult fight for the future of our company and our newspaper publications are clearly at stake.”
The parent of the Chicago Sun-Times filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection March 31. It operates a fleet of newspapers in the suburbs, including the Post-Tribune, the Naperville Sun and Pioneer Press, as well as North Shore Magazine.
Halbreich said in the memo that he hoped there would be no more layoffs but added he “cannot make any guarantees.”
Among those losing their jobs, Dennis Robaugh, managing editor of the Daily Southtown, said he felt a sense of relief. “It’s been difficult working under these circumstances at a company that had all this hanging over it,” Robaugh said, in reference to the newspaper chain’s financial difficulties and bankruptcy filing.
Robaugh was a nine-year veteran of the paper, and mentioned that business editor Bob Bong, a veteran of more than 30 years, also was laid off, along with at least four other newsroom workers and employees in the advertising department. When news of his departure spread in the newsroom, he said, photo editor Larry Ruehl gave him a bear hug, and well-known columnist Phil Kadner came to wish him well.
“We did great work, work that I’m really proud of,” Robaugh said. “We put people in jail. We changed laws. We helped people who were in need. They’re still doing that, but it’s tougher now, with all the pressures and anxieties and the smaller staff.”
Earlier this week , the company reported a net loss for 2008 of $353.5 million, or $4.31 a share, compared with net income of $271.6 million, or $3.37, in 2007. Revenue fell to $323.9 million from $372.3 million.
Sun-Times Media spokeswoman Lindley White declined to comment and said the company would be prepared to make a statement Monday.
Reporter David Greising contributed to this story.