Cost-cutting ahead at Chicago Tribune

Crain's Chicago Business

The Chicago Tribune's 2014 plans "will include cost reductions to offset revenue declines and investments in growth opportunities," Lynne Marek reports Publisher Tony Hunter told staff in a memo.

The Baltimore Sun, which like The Chicago Tribune is owned by Tribune Co., "last week eliminated seven people in advertising management jobs," Marek reports. "Employees in the newsroom at that paper weren't affected by the cuts," Marek says.

In circulation figures released Thursday, the Tribune reported a 5 percent rise in total average Sunday circulation and a 10 percent rise in total average weekday circulation. The Sun reported a drop of 5 percent in average Sunday circulation and a 2 percent rise in total average weekday circulation.

Here's Hunter's memo:

As we head into the fourth quarter, I want to take a minute to update you on our performance and highlight several critical strategic priorities.

First, there is good news to share.

Both Chicago Tribune Media Group and Tribune Publishing had an outstanding third quarter, delivering operating cash flow growth over last year. Your extra efforts and sense of urgency resulted in solid revenue performance and improved cost management. After three quarters, we are positioned to exceed our financial
plan for 2013.

To ensure we finish the year strong, we are focused on these strategic opportunities:

  • Accelerate progress on revenue initiatives.
    • build and grow our branded content strategy
    • capitalize on the digital marketing services opportunity
    • leverage our market-leading preprint position and other targeted print offerings
    • increase the yield from our growing digital audience
    • continue to optimize consumer print revenues
  • Diversify our lines of business to position us for success.
    • expand niche digital products and launch new business services
    • test and learn from new products like Blue Sky Innovation – - our new
    • digital gathering place for Chicago’s tech-minded community
    • leverage our competitivedifferentiators to identify new revenue opportunities
  • Maintain our competitive mindset by creating high value for clients and consumers.
  • Employee engagement continues to be a priority. The company-wide engagement survey has provided valuable insights to focus our efforts to improve the workplace and ensure high employee engagement.

As is typical this time of year, we are in the midst of 2014 planning, working diligently to create opportunities for our company and employees next year. These plans will include cost reductions to offset revenue declines and investments in growth opportunities. I look forward to our upcoming Town Hall meetings (to be held prior to year-end) where we will recognize the outstanding work happening across the company and discuss our plans for next year.

In the meantime, thanks for remaining focused on the things we can control; serving customers, creating value and maintaining a winning attitude. Your hard work and dedication to the success of our company is greatly appreciated.

With strong brands, great assets and talented people…I am confident we will win.


  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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