At least 11 full-time positions were eliminated last week in the year’s first round of layoffs at Sun-Times Media, sources said. More layoffs are expected soon.
The latest job cuts hit Sun-Times Media advertising operations and Custom Media Solutions, the unit responsible for publishing niche content for specialty online and print products. Some of the layoffs were related to outsourcing and to changes in the economics of custom publishing, according to insiders.
Under Michael Ferro Jr., chairman of Sun-Times Media owner Wrapports LLC, the newspaper has been struggling to achieve profitability through endless rounds of layoffs and other cutbacks. Last month the company sold the Joliet Herald-News to Shaw Media for a reported $6 million as another way to reduce its deficit. Other suburban newspapers properties also are believed to be for sale.
“This sale was an important step in our continued transformation but we have more work ahead,” Wrapports CEO Timothy Knight told staffers after the Joliet deal was completed. “I ask that each of you stay focused on delivering value for our readers and advertisers. We had a strong end to the year and let's keep that momentum going as we begin 2014.”
Wrapports officials never responded to repeated requests for comment on a report here that staff reductions in early 2014 would target departments throughout Sun-Times Media.
Dozens of jobs were cut last year, including 28 photographers who were fired when Sun-Times Media laid off its entire photography department. The company later agreed to hire back four of the photographers as part of its contract settlement with the Chicago Newspaper Guild.