By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tribune outsources local journalism jobs to Chicago

The bankrupt Tribune Co. is outsourcing New England newspaper jobs to the mother ship in Chicago. Both the Hartford Courant, a daily, and the New Haven Advocate, an alt-weekly, have been affected by Tribune’s latest cost-slashing.

Our story begins last Thursday, when Boston Globe sportswriter and Courant alumnus Peter Abraham tweeted, “Two great friends and mentors were let go by the Courant today. If you need top-notch copy editors, I know just the guys for you.”

When I expressed my dismay, Abraham responded, “Seems they are now going to edit the paper out of Chicago or something. Just awful.”

Then, on Friday, the New Haven Independent reported that Joshua Mamis, publisher of the Advocate as well as two satellite operations in Hartford and Fairfield County, had lost his job. I met Mamis at a media-reform conference in San Francisco in 1996, and interviewed him in 2009 for my book-in-progress about the Independent and other community news sites. He is a good guy, and it’s kind of insane to think the Advocate papers can thrive without their own full-time publisher.

The Independent also obtained a memo that gets into a bit more detail about the Chicago connection. Here’s the key paragraph:

Other changes are a result of our on-going participation in Media on Demand (MoD), which provides fully edited and designed non-local news and features content for Tribune newspapers and websites. MoD will expand to take on copy-editing and page design for several newspapers including The Hartford Courant at a center based in the Chicago Tribune newsroom, where the content-sharing hub is located.  This approach, already implemented at the Daily Press, will enable us to improve the efficiency of operations and position us to fulfill our local mission and to meet the challenges of the future.

The Daily Press is located in Newport, Va. And here’s more from the Courant.

This is terrible news. Shipping local journalism jobs to Chicago is malpractice. Rather than pillaging its properties to pay down its $13 billion debt, Tribune ought to get out and let an unencumbered owner operate them.

Here is a column the New York Times’ David Carr wrote earlier this year on Tribune’s implosion. And here is a piece I wrote for the Boston Phoenix in 1999, shortly after the Advocate papers were sold to Times Mirror, which was later acquired by Tribune.

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  1. Matt Kelly

    Many years ago, one of the very first stories I filed at my very first real reporting job involved spelling the name of the local fire marshall– which I spelled incorrectly. The copy editor, who had been doing this job forever, called me up and asked: ‘Are you sure this is right?’

    Of course, he full well knew it was wrong, and could have fixed the correct spelling himself. But he took it upon himself, ‘I’m not sure about this. We’ll need you to call the fire station and confirm,’– which I did, and I learned an important (if exasperating) lesson that I have not forgotten since, and that I drill into new reporters now myself.

    That lesson would not happen under this arrangement. It’s shameful.

  2. Mike Benedict

    It’s the anti-hyperlocal. Could we call it Wicked Distant?

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