Pittsburgh Newspaper to Lay Off 153 Staffers

Add in Philly losses, and Pennsylvania newspapers have shed more than 200 jobs in a week. It could get worse, and soon.

Less than a week after nearly 50 journalists were laid off at Philadelphia Media Network, a paper across the state is laying off even more workers.

Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review announced it is laying off 153 staffers as part of a “sweeping restructuring.”

“We needed to take a close look at our bottom line in the midst of an evolving newspaper industry,” Trib Total Media president Jennifer Bertetto said. “We are doing this to match the changing needs of our readers, subscribers, advertisers, business partners, and our own employees, in order to build an exciting and profitable media future for all of those parties.”

Today’s announcement means more than 200 layoffs have been announced at Pennsylvania newspapers in the last week — and the number could reach 300, depending on how the Tribune-Review’s plans shake out.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was the Greensburg Tribune-Review from 1899 to 1992, and it primarily covered the suburbs. But when a newspaper strike shut down both of Pittsburgh’s dailies, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Press, the Trib moved in to the city. The Press was eventually folded in to the Post-Gazette.

Until his death in 2014, the Tribune-Review was owned by Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife, a principal heir to the Mellon banking fortune, was a longtime supporter of conservative and libertarian causes. The Trib’s restructuring includes the creation of a new company, 535 Media, that will house the paper’s digital and online operations. That company will also own 40 percent of the conservative website NewsMax.

As part of the restructuring, the paper will consolidate its three editions — in Pittsburgh, Greensburg and Tarentum — under one nameplate and eliminate home delivery in unprofitable areas. Sixty-eight employees took buyouts in October; the remaining 153 slashed jobs comes out of a workforce of about 1,100.

“The end of any of our nameplates, all of them longtime fixtures in their communities, is regrettable and painful for everyone,” Bertetto said. “But we are not immune to the financial pressures that have forced even more drastic cutbacks by all of our competitors and by nearly every newspaper in the country.”

The company is also attempting to sell two newspapers, the Daily News in McKeesport and the Valley Independent in Monessen. If Trib Media does not sell the papers, they will fold on December 31st. Another 91 workers will be laid off if that happens.