Friday, December 02, 2005

MoveOn: Help Save the Chicago Tribune from the Chicago Tribune

From the mailbox:

Dear Chicago area MoveOn member,

The Chicago Tribune recently announced it is slashing about 100 people from its staff, despite huge corporate profits. This means watered-down coverage of local, state and national news. Politicians and corporations who should be held accountable by vigilant watchdog journalism will instead be covered by a staff that is stretched too thin.

Equally outrageous, readers are being deceived about why these cuts are happening. Despite reaping huge profits, the Tribune's corporate owner simply wants more, and they're willing to sacrifice good journalism to get it. The Tribune Company owns many newspapers and has ordered firings at papers across the nation. But instead of admitting the real motive for layoffs, they point to things like rising newsprint costs.

The Chicago Tribune's corporate owners think they can get away with this because nobody is paying attention. But we're starting a petition to show the strong public opposition to these cuts. MoveOn Media Action is a campaign empowering regular people to fight back when news outlets abandon their journalistic duty to be a vigilant watchdog for the public.

Please sign the petition to the Chicago Tribune and its corporate owners demanding they reverse their news cuts by clicking here:

After you sign the petition, please forward this message to your friends, neighbors and co-workers who read the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune Company is forcing many of its newspapers around the country to slash their staffs. On CNN, media reporter Howard Kurtz noted these staff cuts and asked, "Does this mean the papers are losing money? Don't be naive. It means their double-digit profit margins aren't high enough to satisfy Wall Street."

Around the country, stories of Tribune Company firings show the same theme. The Orlando Weekly wrote this tongue-in-cheek commentary about the Tribune Company's firings at the Orlando Sentinel:

[W]ith operating profits only at $585.9 million for the publishing division so far this year—up $93.6 million from the same time last year, by the way—it's only reasonable to expect that some poor schlubs...must fall on their swords. It's the only way.
Steve Wasserman, a former deputy opinion editor at the Chicago Tribune's sister paper, the Los Angeles Times, described how the Tribune Company is running journalism into the ground at his former paper:
Tribune Co. insists that the paper deliver annual operating profit margins nearer 25% or 26% than its more customary return of around 15% or 16%. (Last year...the paper reaped an operating profit margin of about 20%, a figure that failed to satisfy the Chicago moneymen.) The paper's top managers and editors are determined to do so or die trying.
And in a Chicago Sun-Times article about firings at the Chicago Tribune, a reasearch analyst offered this thought:
"You can't cut your way to success. And clearly, if you start cutting costs to the extent it does hurt editorial quality, it will just make things worse," said John Morton of Morton Research Inc., a Silver Spring, Md.-based media research firm.
We must defend the reporters and editors who produce the paper each day but cannot speak out against their corporate owners and managers. We can fight these news cuts by forcing the Chicago Tribune's corporate owners to pay attention to the readers they are supposed to be serving.

Please sign the petition to reverse the news cuts at the Chicago Tribune, and pass it along to others you know:

Thank you for all you do.
I sent Trib Corp the following:
I buy a Trib and Sun-Times nearly every day because the value of those two papers for a dollar currently outweighs the value of a single issue of the New York Times for the same dollar.

Cutting the Trib's staff by 100 will certainly force me to revisit that calculation.

Please restore the positions that you are threatening to cut and maintain the Tribune's value.

Thank you for your time
I'm never certain of whether these kinds of actions have any effect or not, but I am fairly certain what will result from doing nothing.

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