The names of the employees were not released, but the company acknowledged they were part of a 7 percent reduction among an eligible 7,000 employees across its media portfolio.
“This will be an emotional time as we say goodbye to friends and co-workers who have shared in our mission,” Tribune editor Gerry Kern wrote in a memo to staff. “We are grateful for their contributions and thankful for their comradeship.
“Many people see this as an opportunity to change course in their professional or personal lives with the help of the voluntary separation program and its enhanced benefits. We respect each person’s decision. Each will choose whether and how to communicate about that decision.”
Among those confirmed to be leaving the Tribune are Fred Mitchell, Colleen Mastony, Jon Hilkevitch, Maggie Gentilcore, Bob Secter, Barbara Brotman, Rich Wronski, Bonnie Miller Rubin, Stephan Benzkofer, Dawn Turner, Lisa Black, George Knue, Bill Hageman, John Owens and Kevin Pang.
On Friday, reporter Mark Caro, who has covered music, movies, entertainment and culture in his 26 years at the Tribune, also announced he had opted for a buyout. He said he plans to continue exploring the cultural world.
“I loved writing The Foie Gras Wars for Simon & Schuster, and I’ve been itching to move forward on the next projects,” Caro said. “It’s too easy to kick long-term goals down the road when you’re working at a job that you love while also juggling family and other commitments. This is helping me take the necessary leap.”
Also confirmed to be leaving the company is David Bernstein, award-winning features editor at Chicago magazine for nearly 10 years. The monthly is owned by Chicago Tribune Media Group.
The buyout offer included up to one year’s pay along with extended health insurance benefits. November 25 will be the last day of work for most employees in the plan.
Here is the text of Kern’s memo to staff:
Over the next few weeks, a number of our colleagues will be leaving the newsroom as part of the voluntary separation program.
Employees across the Chicago Tribune Media Group are being notified today about the status of their applications and the dates of their departure.
This will be an emotional time as we say goodbye to friends and co-workers who have shared in our mission. We are grateful for their contributions and thankful for their comradeship.
Many people see this as an opportunity to change course in their professional or personal lives with the help of the voluntary separation program and its enhanced benefits. We respect each person’s decision. Each will choose whether and how to communicate about that decision.
We also are grateful to those who have elected to stay. The Chicago Tribune remains committed to performing public service for the Chicago region through our reporting, investigations, opinion leadership, commentary and storytelling.
We are steadfast in our promise to stand up for the community, capture the Chicago experience and give people the information and perspectives they need. Readers believe in this mission and the value of our work, making us far and away the leading source of news, information and interaction in this region.
This has been our course for the past few years and, thanks to you, we have made tremendous progress.
We will continue to innovate and invest in these areas, which hold the greatest value for our audience. We are in the midst of a profound transformation that presents an abundance of opportunities and challenges across all of our platforms, especially digital.
In upcoming town halls and other departmental meetings, we will talk about the plan for 2016, how our mission will continue and how you can contribute to our success.