Dozens of 'Star Tribune' Staffers Take Buyout

By: Minneapolis Star Tribune managers have approved most of the 50 newsroom buyouts they're seeking, including some of the newspaper's most well-known reporters.

Last month Publisher Par Ridder announced a 7 percent staff cut, or 145 jobs, including 50 from the news division. That would leave 333 newsroom employees.

The paper is offering buyouts of up to a year's pay, with layoffs possible if not enough employees volunteer to leave. By Tuesday, 44 newsroom workers had been approved for buyouts. Additional applications were still pending, meaning it's possible the paper will get its 50 newsroom departures without layoffs.

"I remember when I was in my late 20s I was impatient for people in their late 50s to get the hell out of the way," said reporter Chuck Haga, among the people who will leave the paper June 15. "So now I'm getting the hell out of the way for youngsters."

During 19 years at the paper, Haga covered stories around the Upper Midwest, including tragedies like the Grand Forks flood in 1997, and the beauty of a fresh snowfall.

Also planning to leave is metro columnist Doug Grow and 1995 Pulitzer Prize finalist Sharon Schmickle, once a stalwart of the paper's Washington bureau who also covered the Iraq war.

"I didn't think I would walk out of there; I thought I would be carried out," Grow said. "I still believe, in particular in a wonderful market like this, that there's room for a literate and involved newspaper."

The paper's nation and world news editor Dave Peters said he has been named senior national news editor for Internet Broadcasting Systems, a Mendota Heights company that publishes television Websites.

Three months ago an additional 24 newsroom workers took voluntary buyouts tied to the newspaper's sale to Avista Capital Partners.

The newspaper is also working on reorganizing its newsroom to focus more on city and suburban coverage, while scaling back or eliminating beats like architecture and aging.

The Star Tribune once had profit margins above 20 percent, but during a company meeting in May, Ridder said its advertising and circulation revenue was falling so fast that it could start losing money in less than two years if no action were taken.

Circulation dropped about 5 percent for the six-month period that ended March 31, to 574,406 on Sunday and 345,252 on weekdays.


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