Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Other Shoe Drops - First Layoffs at WPIX

Well, it has started. Yesterday WPIX laid off one person from Programing, one from Finance, one from IT, and one from Sales Research, a total of four.

These individuals were let go for "economic reasons", which just means Sam Zell needs the cash to offset the ginormous debt he brought us when he took over Tribune.

I'm certain there will be more staff cuts to follow, more asset sales, and more belt tightening.

See the article below for an example.


Sour in Trib Tower

Staff told to pinch pennies on office supplies -- by boss who drives $235,000 Lamborghini

For some employees at the Chicago Tribune, a memo Monday was the last straw. Make that the last Post-it note, pen and notebook.

The paper's corporate owner, Tribune Co., is trying to save $500,000 a year on office supplies. Gerald Spector, the company's chief administration officer, issued a memo asking workers to reduce their supply purchases and to economize on travel.

Around Tribune Tower, Spector, 61, is known for cruising into the executive parking lot with a 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, worth about $235,000, according to car valuation references. Records also show Spector has owned a 2001 Ferrari 360 Spider, worth about $172,000, and a 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL600, which cost $126,000 new but now commands a modest $59,000.

The three cars are worth about what Spector hopes to achieve in corporate savings, which perhaps was on his mind when he wrote, "As you can see with office supplies, small amounts quickly add up and make a difference."

Spector did not return a call Monday, and a Tribune spokeswoman declined to comment.

It's the latest sign of cutbacks and culture shock at Tribune, which is groaning under $13 billion in debt. Real estate titan Sam Zell used the debt to finance a company buyout last year that made him chairman.

He has since brought in longtime associates to shake up a media company Zell has described as bloated and bureaucratic. The new bosses have ordered layoffs at other company newspapers and are expected to do so this summer at the Chicago Tribune.

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