Could COVID-19 kill the traditional newsroom? Amid the remote work environment sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, Tribune Publishing is closing the offices of five of its newspapers, NBC News reports. They include the Daily News in New York City, the Orlando Sentinel in Florida, and two Maryland newspapers, including the Capital Gazette, where a mass shooting claimed five lives in 2018. The company had already abandoned office space in Los Angeles and Chicago during the first quarter of 2020. The papers will still be published, but it's not clear whether any physical workspace might open in the future. The local newspaper industry, already struggling before the pandemic, is having an even harder time now, with layoffs and furloughs ramping up. Poynter notes several other publishers are leaving some physical offices behind, including McClatchy.
"Out of an abundance of caution we do not anticipate having employees that can work remotely coming back into the office for the remainder of the year and into 2021," said a Tribune Publishing rep regarding the closure of the Daily News newsroom. "With no clear path forward in terms of returning to work, and as the company evaluates its real estate needs in light of health and economic conditions brought about by the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close the office." The AP notes Tribune Publishing owns "some of the most storied newspapers in American journalism." The Morning Call, a Pennsylvania paper whose newsroom is also shutting down, had been in its building for 100 years. The Sentinel had been at its location for 69. But working outside an office, says the editor of an Advance Publications paper that's selling its building, is actually "the way reporters should work." (Read more newspaper industry stories.)