Tribune Publishing Co. (NYSE: TPCO) has become another newspaper company that continues to gut staff. The move again raises the question of whether consumers will buy products that have been diminished.
According to CNN Business, Tribune Publishing’s management sent a notice to its employees that it was offering voluntary buyout deals to people who have been with the company for over eight years. In most cases, these are probably among the highest-paid workers. Tribune owns the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and the New York Daily News, among others.
Some may blame the fact that Alden Capital has become the Tribune’s largest shareholder. Alden is known for aggressively cutting staff at papers it owns. However, the reasons go beyond that. Revenue at most large and medium-size metro papers continues to fall between 5% and 10% a year. Tribune’s problem is how it can make money this year into next.
The debate among experts in the newspaper industry is about whether newsrooms, which represent only part of the employee base of most papers, can be cut indefinitely. At some point, the products have become so much a shell of what they were a decade ago that consumers will not buy either paper or digital subscriptions. It is a spiral down that has become incessant.
Finally, if a large chain like Tribune cannot effectively fight the industry’s problems, what can the industry expect from everyone else?