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Trib announces expansion in some markets, going all-digital in Pittsburgh

| Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, 11:21 a.m.
Trib Total Media is headquartered in the historic Clark Building on Pittsburgh's North Side.
Steven Adams | Tribune-Review
Trib Total Media is headquartered in the historic Clark Building on Pittsburgh's North Side.

Trib Total Media announced Wednesday a broad-based restructuring plan that will re-emphasize local news in its key markets while moving toward the future with its Allegheny County news coverage.

In an announcement to employees, President and CEO Jennifer Bertetto said that to ensure a sustainable future, the company will significantly increase staff and other resources devoted to the Westmoreland and Valley News Dispatch editions of the Tribune-Review. She said the goal is to bolster the local news and sports coverage that have made those newspapers so successful.

“Our Westmoreland and Valley News Dispatch readers are loyal to these newspapers, and we want to give them even more of the local coverage that will keep them coming back every day,” Bertetto said.

Bertetto said the company would continue its Allegheny County coverage on its website, TribLIVE.com, while creating a free electronic publication. The electronic edition will be fully customizable to the reader and focused on providing comprehensive, frequently updated coverage of Allegheny County and Western Pennsylvania.

In Allegheny County, “Our commitment to covering news will not change. We will continue to maintain a Pittsburgh-based newsroom,” Bertetto said. “We're just using a different platform to deliver the news. Our goal is to meet the demands of readers who want to access breaking news through mobile technology.”

The Trib will retain 11 of its 14 weekly newspaper publications.

As part of the plan, 106 full- and part-time employees will face layoffs, she said.

“We did everything possible to avoid this course of action,” Bertetto said. “This was an incredibly tough decision.”

This month, 95 employees took voluntary buyouts from the company. After the layoffs are completed, the company will have 455 employees — 388 full-time and 67 part-time.

The Greensburg edition of the Tribune-Review is the dominant news source in the Westmoreland County market, as is the Valley News Dispatch in the Alle-Kiski market.

The last print edition of the Pittsburgh Trib will be published Nov. 30 before moving to a unique, free electronic edition.

The Pittsburgh newsroom will be led by three longtime editors, Luis Fábregas, Jeremy Boren and Rob Amen.

Fábregas said the digital operations will focus on areas that have distinguished the Trib from its competitors, including politics, technology, health and breaking news.

“Our goal is to embrace innovative story­telling methods while staying true to our journalistic roots,” Fábregas said.

Nationally, newspapers in Detroit, Cleveland and Harrisburg — to name only a few — have placed a significant emphasis on increasing their digital presence.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press in 2008 cut home delivery to three days a week. Other news outlets that are focusing on digital platforms include the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which is delivered to homes only four days a week, according to its website. The Christian Science Monitor ended its daily print format in 2009.

Trib Total Media began restructuring shortly after the death of publisher Richard Mellon Scaife in July 2014. Changes included buyouts and layoffs in 2015 as well as the sale and closing of several of the company's newspapers.

“We had hoped that the moves we made last fall would be enough to stabilize our financial position, but it simply wasn't enough,” Bertetto said. “Like other news organizations, our company faces an intense financial reality that compelled us to make additional changes. These changes, although difficult, are necessary to ensure our long-term viability. I am incredibly confident in the direction our organization is heading.”

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