Going forward, The San Diego Union-Tribune’s newsroom promises to be different: Flatter, with fewer editors overseeing what reporters write. Refocused, with senior reporters freed up to delve more deeply into their beats and publish straight to the web. And smaller, with fewer journalists on staff.
The Union-Tribune laid off 35 newsroom employees Thursday, part of a planned reorganization that comes as the newspaper is simultaneously hiring, recruiting both new leaders and entry-level reporters. I sat down Friday morning with Jeff Light to talk about his first cuts as the paper’s editor, and the organization’s seventh round of layoffs or buyouts since late 2006.
Driven by the economy or your reorganization plan?
The real driver is how do we create this multiplatform publishing newsroom. This has been a very wrenching disruption for everybody. Now, also part of that, is budget requirements that the publisher has given us based on his responsibilities. What he thinks the right size of company is. It’s the combination of those two things. Taken together, it’s pretty wrenching.
Last time you were here, you asked if I saw some big layoff, and I said no. Well, I guess I wasn’t very good at foreseeing. At that point, I didn’t have some requirement from the publisher. If you’d taken that out, you still would’ve seen layoffs just from the restructure, and a lot of disruption to the mix of roles. I would not just blame the publisher (Ed Moss). That really wouldn’t be fair. It’s partly his fault, though.
You’re laying off and hiring. The net effect though is that the newsroom is smaller.