The Tribune has made large strides toward serving readers electronically, but hasn’t been able to adequately convert into revenue its growing online readership. —Tim Fitzpatrick, deputy editor
SALT LAKE CITY — Shrinking revenues and the changing media landscape are hitting The Salt Lake Tribune, which announced a 7.5 percent cut in newsroom staff Wednesday.
Citing declining advertising revenue and decreasing circulation, the Tribune laid off nine newsroom employees — four reporters and five copy editors. The cuts reduce the number of newsroom staff to 119 people, according to deputy editor Tim Fitzpatrick.
When reached by the Deseret News, Fitzpatrick deferred to the Tribune's online story as an explanation of what prompted the layoffs. The online report says "the Tribune has made large strides toward serving readers electronically, but hasn’t been able to adequately convert into revenue its growing online readership," Fitzpatrick said in the report.
According to Editor Nancy Conway, the cuts will bring a change in how news stories are edited and presented, with copy-editing and page-design functions integrated with existing news-gathering and content-producing teams.
“We’ve all watched newspapers around the country trimming staffs, cutting news-hole and making savings where they can,” Conway said. “(M)arket and social changes make that a necessity. Until now, we have been able to make select cuts and savings through attrition that kept us apace of where we needed to be. That is no longer the case.”
Fitzpatrick said employees leaving the paper will receive severance packages.
“We are sorry to see them go,” Conway said in a message to employees. “These folks, like everyone in the newsroom, have contributed to the strength of The Salt Lake Tribune and served readers all across the state of Utah. We are grateful for their good work, thank them, and wish them well.”
During the past year The Salt Lake Tribune weekday circulation fell by 2.2 percent, from 113,032 to 110,546, according to data from the March 2012 Audit Bureau of Circulations Report. The Deseret News weekday circulation grew by 14.6 percent during that period, from 73,075 to 83,719.
Sunday circulation showed marked changes in the media market. As of March 2012, Sunday print circulation for the Deseret News was 129,314, while the Tribune reported 99,513 circulation. The Deseret News publishes its Sunday edition for readers across the country as well as for its Utah audience.
When PDF downloads and mobile applications are included, the Deseret News Sunday circulation grew from 79,436 in March 2011 to 160,617 in March 2012, a 102 percent jump. The Tribune reported an 11 percent jump in the same period, from 126,525 to 140,628. Local readership of combined online and print, as measured by survey data between September 2011 and March 2012, grew by 13 percent for the Deseret News while readership fell by 6 percent at the Salt Lake Tribune.
Meanwhile, the publication Now In Salt Lake, the weekly entertainment tabloid produced by The Salt Lake Tribune and owned by Media One of Utah, announced it will cease publication on June 1, resulting in two layoffs.
“It was a business decision. People change their behaviors and their preferences, and I think that a weekly tabloid is frankly a thing of the past,” MediaOne CEO Brent Low said Wednesday.
MediaOne is jointly owned by The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, performing certain business duties for both publications.