Tribune Co. is closing Sun's foreign bureaus

July 07, 2006|By NICK MADIGAN | NICK MADIGAN,SUN REPORTER

Tribune Co., corporate parent of The Sun, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, plans to implement a system that better coordinates its international coverage and to close by January 2008 the foreign bureaus of the chain's smaller papers - including The Sun's.

The Sun's correspondents based in Moscow and Johannesburg, South Africa, will be reassigned to Baltimore some time in the next 18 months. The Middle East correspondent for The Sun is expected to remain in Jerusalem but be absorbed into Tribune's foreign network.

The Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times will retain their foreign bureaus and provide coverage for their sister papers, which include Newsday, the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Hartford Courant.

For The Sun, which sent its first correspondent overseas in 1887 and a decade ago had eight foreign bureaus, the moves signal an end to a tradition of overseas postings - unusual at a newspaper of its size.

Gerould Kern, Tribune Co.'s vice president for editorial, would not specify the cost savings but estimated the company would have about 40 correspondents overseas at the end of the process.

Kern said the chain's 11 daily papers "haven't done a particularly good job of coordinating" their coverage of news either nationally or overseas, and that the new operation should fix that.

"Overall, this is going to provide strong daily coverage at a lower cost," Kern said.

Roy Gutman, foreign editor at Newsday, in Melville, N.Y., said the paper's bureaus in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Beirut, Lebanon - the last of six - are set to close in the next year or so.

"They've added immeasurably to the quality of journalism from those regions," Gutman said. "I don't know what's going to replace them. The paper thrived on that."

Sun Editor Timothy A. Franklin said yesterday that the paper would continue to cover stories overseas by dispatching reporters from Baltimore. "We'll do significant enterprise reporting with relevance to this market," he said.

The space given to foreign news, Franklin said, will remain the same.

"We'll continue to have a storied tradition of foreign reporting - just in a different form," he said. "We're competing in a different environment than we were five, 10 years ago. International news is more of a commodity than ever because of the Internet."

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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