Tribune blasts report about newspaper budget cuts; ‘we’ll see who’s right,’ says Robert Feder

In mid-August, the Chicago Tribune announced that it was partnering with longtime media columnist Robert Feder. “Editorially speaking, he’ll do whatever he wants,” said Tribune digital czar Bill Adee.

Weitman (left) and Feder

Weitman (left) and Feder

And he is — to the dismay of Tribune’s spokesman, who calls Feder’s post about Tribune newspaper budget cuts “grossly inaccurate.” Gary Weitman is also unhappy with Feder for not calling for comment before reporting that CEO Peter Liguori ordered $100 million in cuts.

Feder wrote: “The cuts will start to be put into effect Dec. 1, sources said, and are expected to affect all areas of operation, including the newsrooms.”

Here’s what spokesman Weitman says:

The original [Feder] blog post (on which the L.A. Times story is based) is grossly inaccurate. No targets for expense reductions have been set. No deadlines have been set.

We’re in the process, as we are every year at this time, of conducting budget reviews at all of our businesses. Everything is on the table, as it is every year. We’re always trying to improve our business model in ways that allow us to operate as efficiently as possible, while at the same time directing as many resources as we can to producing great content for our readers, viewers and digital users.

We’re trying to determine how to put our publishing businesses on the best possible footing for the long term, to make them a strong as possible. This is the normal budget process that we go through annually.

By the way, Mr. Feder never bothered to call or email me for comment before writing his original blog post. I thought that was standard operating procedure for most journalists.

Feder tells Romenesko readers:

I stand by my sources who were present at the meeting when the budget goals were announced. This is not the first time a Tribune Co. spokesman has questioned my reporting on the company. Once again we’ll see who’s right. I’m confident that my track record speaks for itself.

* Feder: Tribune Co. boss orders $100M in cuts (robertfeder.com)
* August 16: Feder partners with Chicago Tribune (chicagotribune.com)

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