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A Few More Cuts at the SouthtownStar

Local paper loses its Orland Park beat reporter as Sun-Times Media continues its cost-reduction efforts.

The Orland Park beat reporter for the SouthtownStar lost her job Tuesday in another Sun-Times Media layoff. Stephanie Gehring, a well-liked 20-year veteran of the newspaper who covered Orland Park the last three years, was one of at least two newsroom staffers let go.

The reduction is part of ongoing efforts to streamline newsrooms throughout Sun Times-Media properties, said company spokeswoman Tammy Chase, who confirmed the layoffs but would not say how many.

"Generally speaking, we are doing a lot to invest in our editorial system, and are looking for ways to make our newsrooms more efficient," Chase said. Layoffs have been conducted throughout the company this year. "We will continue to look for efficiencies as the situation warrants, but we won't speculate now on whether there will be any more reductions."

Sources say further cuts are possible at Sun-Times Media. Rex Robinson, a community news editor who's been with the company for more than 15 years, also was let go.

Michelle Holmes, of Chesterton, Ind., SouthtownStar editor since 2008, declined comment.

The SouthtownStar newspaper has lost roughly one-fourth of its combined circulation since the November 2007 merger of the Daily Southtown and Star Newspapers. The Audit Bureau of Circulation places SouthtownStar circulation on Sunday at 46,808 and average weekday circulation at 33,443 for the six months ended March 31, 2010.

Five years ago, 120 community journalists worked in the Tinley Park office of the Daily Southtown and Star Newspapers. Between layoffs and attrition, about 50 now remain. Recently, the second floor of the newspaper office at 6901 W. 159th St., the former home of Gately's department store, was vacated because the remaining editorial, advertising and circulation staff can fit on a single floor in the building.

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