August 16, 2016

At least six newsroom employees have been laid off at the San Diego Union-Tribune as the newspaper undergoes a reorganization.

Four employees responsible for a mix of social media and homepage curation were laid off on Monday, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. An additional two employees, photographers, have also been laid off, those sources said.

The move comes as the Union-Tribune’s owner, Tronc, is seeking to centralize some social media and curation functions at a hub in Los Angeles, where it owns the Los Angeles Times, the sources said.

Four of the affected employees were called into a meeting Monday with Jeff Light, the Union-Tribune’s editor and publisher, according to a source familiar with the meeting. During the meeting, Light explained that the cuts were part of a company-wide strategy that wasn’t limited to the Union-Tribune, the source said.

In addition to the Union-Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, Tronc also owns the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel and several other American daily newspapers.

In an email to Poynter, Tronc spokesperson Dana Meyer said the Union-Tribune is undergoing “some restructuring across all business functions.”

“Some of these changes are to meet the demands of the local business and some of these changes are to align with our larger transformation strategy,” she said.

Tribune Publishing, now Tronc, purchased the Union-Tribune in 2015 as part of an effort to build on its already-strong footprint in Southern California. Shortly after the purchase was completed, the newspaper laid off 178 employees, the overwhelming majority of which were working in printing and deliveries. Nine of the Union-Tribune’s 173 newsroom staff members were cut, most of whom worked for a video initiative, according to the newspaper.

Since Chicago tech mogul Michael Ferro became chairman of the Union-Tribune’s parent company earlier this year, Tronc has announced major strategic changes that include doubling down on its efforts to produce video and pooling resources across the company.

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Benjamin Mullin was formerly the managing editor of He also previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow,…
Benjamin Mullin

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