Edition by subtraction: Another round of layoffs hits Sun-Times
The euphoria over the Chicago Sun-Times’ Pulitzer Prize victory last month proved fleeting as another wave of editorial layoffs hit the newspaper and its parent company Wednesday.
Official figures were not released, but sources said most of the estimated 20 or so cutbacks were attributed to consolidation of copy-editing functions and other newsroom operations companywide. At least five veteran Sun-Times staffers were affected — including some with more than 30 years’ experience.
It marked the second time since March that editorial ranks had been thinned at the Sun-Times despite assurances from management that the company was “stable and healthy” after the recent passing of company savior Jim Tyree. “We are in absolutely fine shape,” Sun-Times Media chairman and CEO Jeremy Halbreich told the City Club of Chicago in a speech on May 2. “We are in good shape.” He made no reference to additional layoffs.
Among those cut Wednesday were Sun-Times writers and copy editors Bill Cunniff, Jeff Johnson, Ralph Greenslade and John Grochowski, and graphic designer Char Searl. Grochowski also wrote the Casino Answer Man gambling column. More than a dozen other positions reportedly have been targeted at four of the company’s suburban dailies — the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune, the Joliet Herald-News, the Aurora Beacon-News and the SouthtownStar.
They joined at least six Sun-Times writers whose jobs were eliminated March 17, including media and marketing columnist Lewis Lazare, assistant sports editor/prep sports writer Steve Tucker, and reporters Celeste Busk, Misha Davenport, Cheryl Jackson and John Jackson.
The frequency and extent of layoffs remains a source of ongoing anxiety for many Sun-Times staffers, who forfeited longstanding union protection when Tyree and his investment group bought the company out of bankruptcy in 2009 and extracted major contract concessions from the Chicago Newspaper Guild.
Sun-Times editor Don Hayner did not respond to requests for comment on the layoffs.