Tribune Tower, Chicago
The Tribune Company is set to become the biggest television station company in the U.S. when it buys Local TV LLC, which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Reuters

Tribune Co., one of America’s largest media companies, announced a “restructuring” Wednesday that will eliminate nearly 700 jobs at the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and six other daily newspapers.

Employees got the grim news in a memo from Peter Liguori, president and CEO of the Chicago-based company. He announced “an organizational and strategic transformation designed to ensure the long-term vitality of Tribune’s publishing business.” Therefore, he wrote, “we have decided to unify the non-editorial functions of our publishing businesses,” but “creating these critical efficiencies and ensuring the long-term strength of our mastheads will, unfortunately, result in the selective reduction of our publishing staff.”

Units such as advertising, marketing, manufacturing and digital media will be consolidated to offset annual publishing revenue declines of $75 million to $100 million, the company said. Under the realignment, which takes effect Jan. 1, the company plans to "invest more concertedly" in digital growth, according to Liguori.

Tribune Co. emerged from a four-year stay in Chapter 11 bankruptcy last Dec. 31. The company owns 23 television stations including WGN-Ch. 9; national cable channel WGN America; WGN-AM 720; eight daily newspapers and other media assets. Tribune Co. has been exploring the possible divestiture of its newspapers since February. In July, it announced plans to spin off its publishing division into a separate company.

About 340 publishing positions were already eliminated through September, according to Tribune financial statements. Tribune Co. eliminated about 800 publishing positions last year.