The paper is also preparing for a more digital-focused strategy as part of a plan with its corporate owners.
Tacoma’s News Tribune, Washington’s second largest newspaper and a fixture in the Puget Sound region for more than a century, is preparing for job cuts in the newsroom.
Its top editor, Karen Peterson, is leaving as well.
Several staffers in the newsroom said that during an emotional meeting with top editors Wednesday, they were told to prepare for at least 10 job cuts. It’s not clear yet if the reductions would be made through voluntary buyouts or layoffs, or a combination of the two, and how the cuts might affect the News Tribune’s smaller sister paper, The Olympian, which shares resources with the Tacoma paper.
The cuts follow prior layoffs and buyouts at the paper in recent years.
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The paper’s website lists about 65 reporters, photographers, editors and others in the newsroom, with about a dozen more at The Olympian, well down from the papers’ heyday. It’s not clear yet which jobs would be lost, and the plans are still in the early stages.
As part of a plan with parent company McClatchy, the paper plans to shift to a more digital-focused strategy centered on driving more page views to their website, staffers there said.
At the same time those changes were announced internally, Peterson shocked her fellow journalists by saying she would be leaving the paper’s top newsroom post, which she has held since 2008. Publisher and president David Zeeck confirmed the departure in an email sent to staffers Thursday.
“She told me this week she’s given all she has to the job and loved every minute of it, but that it’s time to find a new challenge,” Zeeck’s email said. “She plans to stay in this community and contribute in other ways to the South Sound, so she’ll take some time to reflect and then seek that next opportunity.”
Peterson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It’s unclear if her decision to leave was tied to the impending job cuts and the digital focus.
Peterson also helps oversee The Olympian, which has its own executive editor.
Dale Phelps, the News Tribune’s managing editor since 2008, will take over as interim executive editor when Peterson departs in two weeks.
Zeeck declined to comment Thursday.
The journalists there are not represented by a union. Three staffers at the paper who confirmed the job cuts spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs.
The News Tribune is caught up in the same revenue issues facing newsrooms across the country.
U.S. newspapers have lost 40 percent of all journalists since 2007, and while some major news organizations have seen a bump in subscriptions in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election, smaller and regional newspapers are still struggling.
Locally, the media scene has been hit with a string of cuts just in the last several months.
The Seattle Times announced plans to cut about two-dozen newsroom jobs though buyouts and layoffs. KOMO news cut about 10 positions. NBC News shut down its Breaking News unit, which was based in Seattle. Northwest Cable News went dark. And a group of papers that included the Issaquah Press and Sammamish Review all shut down.