MediaNews Group Consolidates Eleven Bay Area Papers Into Two

Stack Of Newspapers On Table

California’s Bay Area residents are a couple months away from losing many of their local newspapers, as the Bay Area News Group–a division of MediaNews Group–consolidates eleven newspapers, including the Oakland Tribune, into just two: The Times and the East Bay Tribune. In addition, the San Mateo County Times will be consolidated into the Mercury News.

As of November 2, the Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald, and East County Times will be consolidated into The Times. The Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times will be consolidated into the East Bay Tribune. The San Mateo County Times will be consolidated into the Mercury News.

In a press release first sent to employees this afternoon, the Bay Area News Group (BANG) referred to the consolidation as “streamlining.” About 120 employees, out of 1500, will lose their jobs.

BANG is also launching two new weekly newspapers, the Valley Journal (covering Alamo, Danville and San Ramon) and the Times-Herald (covering Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol).

Two weekly newspapers will be launched, joining several others published by BANG and its affiliates in towns across the region. The new papers are the Valley Journal, serving Alamo, Danville and San Ramon; and the Times-Herald, serving Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol.

“These adjustments, some of them very difficult, position us to execute our strategic plan to maintain and grow our position as the leading multimedia company in the Bay Area,” BANG president Mac Tully said. “We will continue to be the largest news-gathering and newspaper publisher in the Bay Area. We remain committed to embracing emerging digital technologies to buttress our existing products and services.”

The MediaNews Group recently added metered paywalls to 23 of its small- and medium-sized newspapers, including nine in California. None of the BANG papers were included, and it is unclear whether the East Bay Tribune and The Times will operate under paywalls. I’ve asked the MediaNews Group for comment and will update this post if I hear back.

The full press release, embedded on page 2

Bay Area News Group Rebranding Plan Signals Strong Commitment to Bay Area Market
–Strategic Plan includes Multimedia Platform and Other Enhancements–

August 23, 2011 (San Jose, CA) — Bay Area News Group (BANG) today announced a rebranding of many of its newspapers to better reflect the scope of its regional coverage. The changes — which include a streamlining of its print operations — primarily involve its East Bay newspapers, and will result in greater emphasis on providing high-impact, regional and local coverage.

Mac Tully, president of BANG, said all of the existing newspapers’ titles will continue to be published after the changes take effect on November 2, 2011, but under two consolidated mastheads. The Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald, and East County Times will now be branded under The Times masthead, while the Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times will be rebranded as the East Bay Tribune.

The rebranding includes numerous enhancements plus an emphasis on multimedia content delivery that will continue to enlighten and entertain readers while providing new opportunities for advertisers to engage readers.

“We’re taking these actions to strengthen the company for the future and to offer additional value to readers and advertisers,” Tully said. “With these changes, we will continue to serve our communities with high quality daily and weekly newspapers featuring extensive local coverage. The continuing integration of the newspapers with digital products will allow readers to access timely news and information when, where and how they want it.”

The San Mateo County Times will be branded under the Mercury News masthead and will continue to carry local news of the San Mateo area.

According to Tully, this consolidation of titles will result in a number of enhancements in the various publications, including:

–All newspapers will have a separate, stand-alone Local News section, 7 days a week, thereby giving more prominence to local coverage.

–Top local, national and international news will appear in the Main News or “A” section. The Morning Report section will be discontinued.

–The East Bay papers will have a stand-alone Business section every day that will include business news from across the region.

–A section focusing on Technology will be added to the East Bay papers on Mondays.

–The sports section in the East Bay papers will be expanded to include more pro and collegiate news.

–The line-up of comics, which has varied from paper to paper, will become more uniform and will contain the most popular comics as determined by a recent poll of readers.

–Two weekly newspapers will be launched, joining several others published by BANG and its affiliates in towns across the region. The new papers include the Valley Journal, serving Alamo, Danville and San Ramon; and the Times-Herald, serving Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol.

As part of this streamlining, Tully said that BANG will consolidate production operations into its three existing plants located in Concord, Hayward and San Jose. This consolidation is made possible in part because BANG recently increased production capacity at its Hayward and Concord facilities. He further explained that these efficiencies will enable BANG to utilize a smaller facility than the one currently operating in Walnut Creek, therefore the organization will be closing the current facility to move to a smaller one in Contra Costa County.

The streamlining of its print operations will also result in a reduction of approximately 120 jobs — primarily in the production and editorial divisions — out of a local workforce of 1,500 employees.

“These are challenging times for the newspaper industry,” Tully said. “These adjustments, some of them very difficult, position us to execute our strategic plan to maintain and grow our position as the leading multi-media company in the Bay Area,” Tully said. “We will continue to be the largest newsgathering and newspaper publisher in the Bay Area. We remain committed to embracing emerging digital technologies to buttress our existing products and services.”

Regarding new digital initiatives, Tully pointed to the recent launch of the Tapin Bay Area iPad application, which easily shows users what is going on in their neighborhood and across the Bay Area, including events, restaurants, deals, a business directory, and local news.

That app joins the Bay Area News iPad app, which focuses on the best news in the region; the Bay Area News iPhone app, which focuses on breaking news and sports; and the SV2020 iPhone app, which focuses on tech in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. These are among a number of new digital products, including a digital ad agency that will offer customers a comprehensive range of advertising possibilities.

Tully also said the newspapers’ various websites including http://www.MercuryNews.com; http://www.ContraCostaTimes.com; http://www.SiliconValley.com; and http://www.InsideBayArea.com will continue to offer new and expanded coverage and services.

Recently, Jeff DeBalko, whose background is in digital media, was appointed to the new position of senior vice president and chief revenue officer. Tully said DeBalko will help BANG continue its transformation.

###

About Bay Area News Group

Headquarted in San Jose, California, Bay Area News Group is a division of the privately-owned MediaNews Group, one of the largest newspaper companies in the United States situated throughout California, the Rocky Mountain region and the Northeast. MediaNews Group operates nearly 60 daily newspapers in 13 states with combined daily and Sunday circulation of approximately 2.6 million and 2.9 million, respectively. Bay Area News Group has the largest newsgathering operation in the bay area. http://www.MercuryNews.com; http://www.ContraCostaTimes.com; http://www.SiliconValley.com; and http://www.InsideBayArea.com.

Comments have been disabled for this post