Tribune Co. Revenue, Circulation Both Down. Layoffs Resume
It is all part of the record of Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons, whose tenure has been marked by a continued retreat, in profits, revenue. ad sales, and circulation, while he sponsored a stock buyback that is sinking the company further into debt.
Profits dropped in the second quarter to 28 cents a share, from 73 cents a year earlier, although this was due to some special charges and was not regarded by analysts as particularly significant. Still, it was the second worst quarter for income in the last five years for the beleaguered company.
More significant, according to the analysts was a 1.3% dip in revenue, to $1.43 billion, or 7%, and a 5.3% further drop in circulation at Tribune's 11 newspapers.
In connection with the stock buyback plan, FitzSimons promised $200 million more in cost cuts, which representatives of the Chandler family stockholders in the company have argued is a no-win strategy. They have called for an outside investigation of FitzSimon's management and further sale of some company properties, as well as new growth investment in others. Two Tribune television stations have already been sold, and press reports say Tribune is trying to sell the L.A. Times' old San Fernando Valley plant, where the paper once had such high hopes of increasing circulation. Now, the San Fernando plant has been closed, the staff pared to almost nothing and moved to a tiny office in a new location.
FitzSimons is not changing his practices, and the situation grows worse, with almost weekly announcements of less investment in news gathering. Just last week, it was announced that two former Times-Mirror papers, Newday and the Baltimore Sun, will lose virtually all their foreign bureaus. Now, there is the cut in the staff of the Chicago Tribune, the second in the last year.
It is a disastrous situation, both for the newspapers' staff and the newspapers themselves.
So far, there has been no word as to where new layoffs of L.A. Times personnel may come.
The staff of the Santa Barbara News-Press has set a courageous example by openly fighting management policies that are reducing the quality of the paper. So far, however, there has been little fight shown by staff at Tribune newspapers, as FitzSimons slowly wrecks the company.