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Goodbye to five Tribune Publishing newsrooms

As foreshadowed in its quarterly earnings report and call last week, Chicago-based Tribune Publishing has moved to shrink its real estate costs. 

The company is shuttering five of its newsrooms, at the New York Daily News; the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland; the Carroll County Times in Maryland; the Orlando Sentinel in Florida; and The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The papers will go on publishing, the company said. Staff were informed they will be laboring at home until January 2021 at the earliest, the Chicago Tribune reported

“As we progress through the pandemic and as needs change, we will reconsider our need for physical offices,” a company spokesperson, Max Reinsdorf, said by email, the Tribune reported Aug. 12. “We will keep employees informed of decisions as they are made.”

In a June filing with the SEC, Tribune Publishing said it had held back three months of rent for “a majority of its facilities and requested rent relief from the lessors in various forms,” including the ending of leases, the Orlando Sentinel reported

CNN media reporter Kerry Flynn writes: “It's no surprise to see Tribune cut real estate costs. During the company's earnings call last week, CFO Mike Lavey said 'reducing our real estate footprint' was among the priorities to 'sustain ourselves for the long term.' Gannett CEO Mike Reed made similar remarks in its earnings call last week, noting that the company planned 'to sell $100 million to $125 million of property by the end of 2021.’”

In February, Tribune Publishing sold The Virginian-Pilot's Norfolk office building and the paper moved its operations to the Daily Press in Newport News.

In 2017, Tribune Publishing bought the New York Daily News for $1 from media and real estate mogul Mortimer B. Zuckerman.

Maryland’s Capital Gazette was the site of a 2018 shooting in which a gunman killed five employees.

McClatchy, Advance

Sacramento-based McClatchy, meanwhile, is also making changes. It's exiting leases on seven newsrooms as it works to move out of bankruptcy, with spots in California, South Carolina, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte involved, Poynter reported

McClatchy is selling its Lexington Herald-Leader (Kentucky) building as well. The Fayette County Board of Education voted in June to buy the building for $7.5 million, Lex 18 reported

Advance Publications’ Staten Island Advance is selling its building, Poynter also pointed out.

Paywall goes up at Detroit papers

  • Updated

Some content is now behind a paywall at the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News. The paywall went up Aug. 12.

The subscription push was put into motion by Michigan.com, a partnership between the owners of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. 

Alden Global Capital’s Digital First Media owns the Detroit News. Gannett owns the Free Press.

“Most American newspapers have some sort of paid digital requirement today. The Wall Street Journal has required paid digital subscriptions since the inception of wsj.com almost 25 years ago. The New York Times has almost 6 million digital subscribers. And about three-quarters of newspapers in the country now charge in some way to digitally access their content,” said a post from Peter Bhatia, editor and vice president of the Free Press.

Most Free Press content will stay free on freep.com. “‘Subscriber-only’ stories will be the unique, revelatory, in-depth stories that are not available elsewhere,” said the post.

Much of the Detroit News’s breaking news content will stay free, but some of the in-depth and original stories will be available to subscribers only, the paper said. This represents the first time in the 25-year existence of the Detroit News website that it will charge for content, the paper said. 

The papers are offering a $3 deal per paper for the first three months for full digital access and the e-edition.

More news

• The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, California) will shift its print operation to Gannett’s Phoenix facility in September, the paper reported. Gannett owns the paper. The Desert Sun has been printing at the paper's Gene Autry Trail headquarters in Palm Springs since the late 1980s.

Around three dozen employees were cut in the move. “I personally will miss wandering back to ‘the factory,’ smelling the ink, and watching a stream of newspapers cascade down a conveyor belt to the mailroom floor,” said an online letter from Executive Editor Julie Makinen.

• Starting Oct. 12, the Albuquerque Journal and The Santa Fe New Mexican will print their papers at The New Mexican’s production facility, the Albuquerque paper reported. As many as 70 staff members in the Journal’s printing operation will lose jobs, according to William P. Lang, president of the Journal, the Journal said. 

Journal Publishing Company owns the Albuquerque Journal. Robin Martin owns the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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