Sun-Times Media, which owns the Chicago Sun-Times and 40 suburban newspapers, has laid off several longtime suburban editors and other staffers as it begins to consolidate operations in its downtown Chicago offices.
Layoffs took place at the SouthtownStar, Joliet Herald-News, Merrillville Post-Tribune and Aurora Beacon-News, according to several sources. One of those let go was the executive editor of the Post-Tribune.
Phil Arvia, south region sports editor for the SouthtownStar and Joliet Herald-News, was also among those let go Friday. A 25-year veteran and former award-winning sports columnist for the SouthtownStar, Arvia had agreed to move downtown with his fellow suburban editors when his Tinley Park office closes March 28, but confirmed he was let go instead.
Arvia declined further comment.
Timothy Knight, publisher of the Sun-Times and CEO of its parent company, Wrapports LLC, would not discuss the number of layoffs, but confirmed they took place in a statement issued late Friday.
“As a part of Sun-Times Media’s digital-first transformation, the company has had to make some very difficult personnel decisions,” Knight said. “These decisions were based on the changing needs of the business. One outcome is that some employees will not make the transition with us.”
Sun-Times Media owns the Chicago Sun-Times and a suburban network that includes seven daily papers and 32 weeklies. In December, it announced that it would be closing its suburban offices and consolidating operations in the Sun-Times newsroom at 350 N. Orleans St. Suburban editors would be asked to move downtown, while reporters could work from the field, according to a staff memo sent at the time by Jim Kirk, editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media.
While the December memo said the Sun-Times did not anticipate cutting jobs, it left open the possibility that some “job redundancy” would emerge during the consolidation process.
Paulette Haddix spent more than four decades at the Post-Tribune, working her way up from freelance writer to executive editor in 2004. She was planning to continue in that role after her Merrillville office closes March 27, but those plans changed Friday when she was visited by Kirk.
“When I pull into the parking lot, I always look for a car with Illinois plates, which I would take to be a bad sign, and sure enough there was one,” said Haddix, 60.
Kirk declined to comment beyond citing Knight's memo.
Matt Cappellini, 58, who worked his way up to associate managing editor during a 26-year career at the Joliet Herald-News, relocated to the Sun-Times offices two weeks ago, but was let go Friday.
“It would have been nice if they just laid me off two weeks ago and I didn’t have to buy a monthly rail pass,” Cappellini said.