The Salt Lake Tribune is cutting its staff by nearly a third. This announcement comes days after the paper’s owner, Paul Huntsman, told staff to expect layoffs and a paring back of its print issues.
Tribune staff woke up this morning to an email informing them whether they’d be staying or leaving. Twenty-nine staff were told they’d be leaving, with five more taking early retirements. This trims a staff of around 90 by a third and will have a significant impact on news coverage.
One of those journalists let go today is Aubrey Weiber. Like many of his colleagues, he was notified that his job on the criminal justice team no longer existed. He sums up today's events this way: “This sucks.”
But Weiber wasn’t too surprised. Although he’s only been with the Tribune since last November he has been in the newspaper business for the past five years.
“I’ve seen some round of layoffs every six months of my career," said Weiber.
The Tribune put up a paywall earlier this year to offset a decline in print subscriptions and ad revenue. But the switch has not been enough to stem losses.
On Monday, Weiber came into the office one last time to meet with his editors and pack up his things. He said he worries about the reporters left behind.
“Walking through the newsroom today it just felt so empty," said Weiber.
His team of 9 is now a team of 3. The paper has already announced scaling back their “Utah” section to only three days a week. They simply can’t provide the same amount of coverage with fewer reporters. Weiber says reporting stories, really reporting them, that takes time.
“Good journalism isn’t done in a day or in an hour, it takes weeks and months," Weiber said.
But despite all this bad news, Weiber, and a number of his colleagues who were let go, took to Twitter to voice their support for the Tribune. Saying that even though they’ll be moving on the work being done there is as critical as ever.
Found out this morning that I was part of the layoffs at the @sltrib. It was great working there, and that paper is full of very talented journalists. Support them and the reporters wherever you live. What they do is critical.
— Aubrey Wieber (@aubreywieber) May 14, 2018
The new owners of Ogden’s paper, the Standard-Examiner, are slashing their staff as well. The company announced 21 layoffs last week.
4:41 P.M.: This post has been updated to include an interview with Aubrey Weiber.