Monday, Aug. 17, 2009 | The new bosses at The San Diego Union-Tribune hope to reach an elusive target this year: Profit. And they’ve managed to convince the most skeptical of audiences — their remaining journalists — that they just might do it.
Officials expect a swath of initiatives, including advertising partnerships, hyperlocal content and shorter stories, will help the newspaper crawl out of the red after a disastrous 2008 and 2009.
These aren’t unusual strategies in the struggling newspaper industry. But there is a twist: the new management is providing previously undisclosed revenue numbers and hopeful projections to newsroom staffers, who came out of an all-hands meeting last week with newfound optimism.
“I went into the meeting not super-receptive, given that this is the management team that had laid off more than 100 people the day before,” said one newsroom staffer. “I came out feeling better about the future of the paper than I have in two years.”
Two other newsroom workers agreed with that assessment, and all three said they were hopeful and impressed by the new management’s willingness to criticize the old regime. (The staff members requested anonymity for fear of antagonizing the new bosses.)
The positive feelings are remarkable considering how the U-T has been plagued by poor morale and severe financial troubles in recent years. The paper has physically shrunk by about half since 2006, and several rounds of layoffs and buyouts have eliminated about half of all jobs companywide. Three rounds of layoffs targeted the newsroom alone. It lost some of its biggest and most well-respected names.