The San Diego Union-Tribune didn’t just lay off the face of its newspaper today. Actually, if you read its press release this afternoon, you’d barely know they laid off anyone at all.

Here’s the bulk of the release:

THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE ANNOUNCES NEW STRATEGIC INITIATIVES

SAN DIEGO — Aug. 12, 2009The San Diego Union-Tribune announced today a series of new strategic initiatives designed to better position the company for short- and long-term growth.

The initiatives include a new advertising offering that will allow micro-zoning for small business advertisers at lower, localized rates; an editorial effort that will drive more local news coverage to targeted communities in San Diego; a planned redesign of SignOnSanDiego.com; and a substantial investment in a pagination system that will significantly streamline the newspaper’s production process.

In addition, the company announced it will reinstate employee pay and benefits that were cut by the Union-Tribune’s previous ownership. Pay cuts imposed in February will be partially reinstated in October, adding to the company’s 401(k) match that was restored in May. Other changes will include a reduction and realignment of staffing levels.

“These initiatives, taken as a whole, strike a balance between our short-term economic reality and our long-term aspirations for growth and re-invention of our product,” said Ed Moss, president and publisher of the Union-Tribune.

Moss noted that while staff reductions are included in the plan, the parallel decision to partially reinstate pay cuts for remaining employees would allow the Union-Tribune to retain top performers and drive future growth. He said the new content initiatives are designed to make the newspaper more accessible to local readers and advertisers.

“We’re committed to growing revenue and readership with an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit,” said Moss.

“We have already begun to implement new opportunities for our advertisers that will include creating entry points for all businesses, whether you are a one-person shop or a large advertiser. This is best exemplified by our new micro-zoning projects that offer high visibility at low rates for small businesses,” he said. “These initiatives are producing results, as revenue has increased since these new strategies were put in place.

“We will soon be implementing new editorial offerings, which will not only increase the story count in the newspaper, but will capitalize on emerging partnerships with other local media outlets. We will continue to deliver high-quality news and content that meet the evolving media habits of our readers and advertisers.”

The new Neighborhood Express Project, introduced last month, will bring hyper-local coverage to targeted communities in San Diego, offering community-oriented news and information along with engagement opportunities for small businesses.

SignOnSanDiego.com will also receive a face-lift, with new features, including social networking tools, richer and easier-to-navigate content and an expansion of its mobile Web site, which in just one month has generated 1.3 million unique visitors.

“These are just a few things we have in mind to help us strengthen our relationship with the San Diego community and with our advertisers and readers,” Moss said. “We are the region’s leading local media company, and we are passionate about our goal to be a strong company for many years to come. With these initiatives, we will be further focusing our resources on areas that matter most to our readers and advertisers.”

The Union-Tribune was sold to Platinum Equity in May, and Moss was named president and publisher shortly after Platinum bought the company. Since joining the newspaper, Moss has been meeting with San Diego community leaders, key advertisers and employees to hear their views, while exploring new opportunities to deliver news and information to the San Diego region.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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