MediaOne of Utah, the company that prints and distributes the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune and sells advertising for the two papers began laying off employees Friday, according to MediaOne President Brent Low.
"At this point, we're saying, 'no comment,"' Low said. "It's just the timing and all."
Low said he didn't have the precise number of people being laid off and that "we could be wrapping up some (layoffs) today."
"More than one department is being impacted," Low said.
One person close to the situation said between 30 and 40 people were laid off, and some of them worked in sales.
"I don't think anyone saw this one coming," the source said.
Revenue at the Deseret News is down by 32 percent since January, and the newspaper has announced it is laying off up to 35 staffers, or 17.5 percent of full-time employees, in the next month. Dean Singleton, head of the Media News Group, the newspaper chain that owns the Tribune, said this month that he does not plan any layoffs at the Tribune.
Nationwide, the newspaper industry is suffering from declining revenues. According to an article in the most recent issue of the American Journalism Review, revenue for newspapers in 2007 was $45 billion and will slide to $42.8 billion in 2008.
Circulation is down at most papers. Classified advertising sales have been lost to Internet sites such as Craigslist.com. Display advertising is going online, too, but newspapers haven't been able to generate enough online advertising to compensate for losses in print advertising. Analysts predict newspaper revenue will continue to slide through 2015 and possibly longer. The result will be that many newspapers will stop the presses permanently and close their doors.
Local ABC affiliate KTVX Ch. 4 and KUCW Ch. 30 laid off almost 15 percent of their staff earlier this week, about 27 people. A spokeswoman for a company that owns the stations said the decision was due in part to the declining national economy.Ch. 4 had been owned by Clear Channel Communications but was sold with Clear Channel's other television stations to Newport Television in April. The spokeswoman, who declined to be named, said that the company had planned to restructure when it bought the Clear Channel stations.