In Defense of Layoffs | Letters | Chicago Reader

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In Defense of Layoffs

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If I'm understanding the numbers right, the Trib is cutting 28 newsroom jobs while creating 13 new online jobs, so a net reduction of 15 journalists from an editorial staff of 540 [Hot Type, December 9]. A 3 percent change? Corporate payrolls fluctuate by more than that every year just by accident--what's the big deal about this?

It's not like any of the specific layoffs will have any effect on the coverage of local, state, or international news. WomanNews has been a waste of newsprint for years: its silly parts, like its fashion coverage, were unnecessary or should go to Red Eye, which is aimed at the age cohort that cares about that stuff. Its smart parts--from the Miss Manners column to the serious pieces about honor killings and female circumcision--always should have been in the Tempo section or the main section rather than in a women's ghetto.

The business features department can certainly afford reduction with zero impact on news values. Does anyone think that two huge car sections each week, or four weekly sections on real estate full of wire-service copy, were improving our civic square?

The City News Bureau was effectively abolished six years ago because the business reasons for its existence had evaporated. The Tribune's attempt to keep it on life support by establishing a department to sell useful information to competitors never made any sense.

They have made a very small trim and made it entirely around the edges--they have protected metro, national, and international news. They didn't close any bureaus or cut the foreign-correspondent budget. If anything, the movement of positions to the Web site may have the effect of improving local coverage. So what crime, exactly, is the Tribune Company guilty of here?

Name withheld

Oak Park

PS: Not that I or very many regular readers still think they are getting good value from their payroll anyway. My wife was astounded: "It takes 540 professional journalists to produce that pile of dull mush each day??"

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