In the wake of similar announcements at two of its sister papers, The Sun said yesterday that it would reduce its staff by about 50 people, part of an effort to trim costs in a time of shrinking revenues.
The Tribune Co. newspaper will offer "voluntary separation" agreements, also known as buyouts, to certain employees, Publisher Timothy E. Ryan said in a memo to the staff. About 15 jobs will be cut from the news department, a little less than 5 percent of the staff.
"We hope to avoid involuntary layoffs by offering this voluntary program," said Ryan, who noted that it had been a "very difficult first quarter for the newspaper industry in general and for The Sun in particular."
The Sun's first-quarter revenue declined 6 percent from the comparable period last year, and the trend was continuing in April, Ryan said.
The Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, both also owned by the Tribune Co., announced staff rollbacks this week, as did The Denver Post.
"This is an outcome that we had hoped to avoid," Timothy A. Franklin, editor of The Sun, wrote in an e-mail to the staff. "We've kept positions open, nipped and tucked the news hole and tried to smartly reduce other expenses to minimize the impact on the quality of The Sun."
Franklin said the paper will "have to stop doing some things as our staff gets smaller." Toward that end, he said, he and his colleagues are looking at a number of options, including merging some of the paper's weekly sections.
"While we're having to make cutbacks, we're also trying to build a news organization for our future," Franklin wrote. "We actually have more readers now than we've had in years, but more and more of those readers are turning to us for information on their computers, cell phones and PDAs."
The Sun, he wrote, needs to "creatively remake" its newsroom for the future and adapt it "to the dramatic changes that are buffeting our business."
Terms of the buyout packages at The Sun are similar to past offers, the last of which occurred in November 2005: one week of pay for every six months of service, up to a maximum of 52 weeks. For those who accept the offer, the last day of work will likely be June 1.