It’s happened Thursday at the Tribune. I’m told seven in features, one business writer, and, understandably — since the world has entered one of its tranquil periods when nothing much is going on — Middle East correspondent Joel Greenberg and Christine Spolar in Rome.
Don Terry, a Tribune Magazine writer with a Pulitzer in his background from his years at the New York Times, got a call in the morning from Geoff Brown, associate managing editor for features. Terry: “He said, ‘Are you coming in?’ I said, ‘Yeah, in half an hour.’ He said, ‘Please stop in my office.’ You know what that means. That’s like the coach saying, ‘Please come in and bring your playbook.’ I said, ‘Geoff, cut to the chase. Have I been laid off’ He said yes.'”
Terry told me, “I wasn’t necessarily expecting it, but I’m not shocked. These are very bad times.”
Jeff Lyon, also a magazine writer, and senior writer Charles Leroux both thought they’d be gone by now. They’d accepted buyout packages in December, but — a few hours before the Tribune filed for bankruptcy — the offers were taken off the table. “So Jeff and I had already gotten ourselves psychologically ready not to be doing this any more,” Leroux told me. Lyon said, “I was mentally out the door two months ago.”
The terms aren’t as good as they would have been in December — one week’s severance pay for every year worked instead of two. But there’s a 52-week cap, and Lyon and Leroux have both worked in the Tower more than 40 years, so the difference in money isn’t infuriating. “I just didn’t feel much at home anymore, since they went to the new format,” Leroux said. “My kind of thing — the longer, nuanced, profile pieces– there really isn’t any place for them.”