TribLocal layoffs coming as coverage outsourced to provider

 
Daily Herald Staff Report
Posted4/24/2012 8:57 AM

Chicago-based Tribune Co. is eliminating its TribLocal staff and outsourcing the work to Chicago-based content provider Journatic LLC, which will take over production during the next three months.

About 20 of 40 jobs may be eliminated at TribLocal, which focuses on suburban coverage outside Chicago. Others will become part of Chicago Tribune staff, owner Tribune Co. said Monday.

 

The Tribune also made an undisclosed investment in Journatic, saying it will provide an opportunity to increase its suburban coverage in the future.

"We believe the way to win with hyperlocal coverage is to produce more local content," said Brad Moore, vice president of Targeted Media and Business Development for Chicago Tribune Co., which runs its niche products, including TribLocal, Chicago Magazine, Metromix, Hoy and Redeye.

"We're not leaving the business of TribLocal," Moore said. "We're just taking some of our sources and combining them with Journatic."

Moore is seeking to use the strategy to increase its online penetration from 25 percent to about 50 percent with local content.

Most of TribLocal's copy editors, designers and web producers were given notice Monday, and their jobs will be phased out over the next three months. They will have a chance to apply for other jobs both at Tribune and Journatic. Those not landing a job will be eligible for severance packages, said Moore.

"We are thrilled that Tribune has chosen to invest in Journatic," Brian Timpone, co-founder and CEO of Journatic, said in a statement. "We look forward to benefiting from Tribune's experience in developing successful ventures within the media space."

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Founded in 2006, Journatic uses a data-driven approach to provide content to some of the largest media companies nationwide. Journatic is one of the largest producers of sponsored content, fueling the online marketing efforts for thousands of small and medium-sized businesses as well as some national consumer brands.

Journatic operates blockshopper.com, an independent publisher of consumer real estate research covering major metros including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, San Francisco, and Dallas. The company is privately held and headquartered in Chicago.

TribLocal was launched in 2007. It used staff reporters, freelance writers and user-generated content to produce news websites, including the most recent additions for Homewood-Flossmoor and Oak Lawn. Its coverage included 90 town websites and 22 print editions, published every Thursday, Moore said.

It has a print circulation of about 335,000, which is delivered inside the Chicago Tribune to subscribers. An additional 800,000 copies are distributed to nonsubscribers on Saturday, Moore said.

The websites average between 350,000 and 500,000 unique monthly visitors, something the Tribune hopes to build on with content from Journatic, the Tribune said.

•Daily Herald Business Writer Anna Marie Kukec contributed to this report.

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