Tuesday, August 23, 2011

East Bay papers consolidate, 120 jobs cut

Three familiar newspaper names — The San Mateo County Times, The Contra Costa Times and The Oakland Tribune — will soon become history.

Mac Tully, publisher of the MediaNews Group newspapers in the Bay Area, announced today that he's consolidating his East Bay papers and putting them under the titles "East Bay Tribune" and "The Times."

Starting Nov. 2, the San Mateo County Times will carry the Mercury News flag on page one, but will continue to report local news.

The Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald and the East County Times will now be branded under the masthead "The Times."

The Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times will be rebranded as the "East Bay Tribune."

As part of this streamlining, the company will shut down its Walnut Creek offices, where it produced the Contra Costa Times, and consolidate its production operations to three existing plants located in Concord, Hayward and San Jose.

The move will result in 120 fewer jobs out of a workforce of 1,500. Whether those jobs will be cut by attrition or layoffs wasn't immediately known.

"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 the newspapers’ various web sites including www.MercuryNews.com; www.ContraCostaTimes.com; www.SiliconValley.com; and www.InsideBayArea.com will not change.

According to Tully's announcement, other changes include:
    • All the papers will have a separate, stand-alone local news section, seven days a week. 
    • Top local, national and international news will appear in the "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 college coverage. 
    • 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, the Valley Journal (serving Alamo, Danville and San Ramon) and the Times-Herald (serving Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol).
The last CoCo Times and Oakland Tribune will be published Nov. 1.

UPDATE, 6:30 p.m.: The AP says the moves will help the company save money so it can invest in ways to bring in more revenue from the Internet and mobile devices.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

What people really want in their newspaper is LOCAL NEWS, not generic regional reporting. Consolidation may save money in the short term, but it will result in a loss of readers over time. People in Oakland don't care what the San Jose City Council did last night. And people in Fremont could care less about the latest happenings in Walnut Creek.

Anonymous said...

You should emphasize that San Mateo is losing the San Mateo County Times. This is really the end for them. Readers will just get a zoned edition of the Merc, and the Merc will have a bureau in San Mateo. Let's see how long that stays open.

james o. cliffo said...

Story says increased pro and college sports coverage. That means more AP stories when it is the LOCAL sports teams - from grade to high school - that need to be followed. Readers can't get that kind of coverage anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

Farewell, San Mateo Times (as many of us still call it). A lot of good journalists tried to keep you going over the years. Thank you.

Merc employee said...

I hope Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that bough about 40% of MediaNews Group, is doing an audit to find out where the money goes in this company. Follow the money. They really need to do this. That's all I'm saying.

Anonymous said...

They want to "invest in ways to bring in more revenue from the Internet and mobile devices"?

Too bad they're about 3 years behind everyone else.

RIP, SMCT. I'm sad, but also glad I jumped ship before you hit the iceberg.

Anonymous said...

The San Mateo County Times already looks and feels like the Mercury-News, with a heavy dose of the AP stories that the Merc that fills the Merc. And they have the Merc's features, such as Gary Richards (as if people in San Mateo really give a damn about San Jose's traffic jams). But changing the flag on the front from the SMCT to "San Jose Mercury News" is symbolically the end of the road for the San Mateo Times. The paper died when Singleton bought it, but this is just the last straw. Sorry to see it die. I can't imagine how they think the Mercury News will be more attractive to readers than a locally branded paper. You've got to wonder if the Merc is intentionally attempting to kill itself.

Anonymous said...

A sad finish to what was once a thriving, hell-raising newspaper.

Anonymous said...

The Times began to die in the early 1990s. By the time the Clintons sold it to Dean Singleton, it was barely on life-support. Singleton and his minions thoroughly botched the job of keeping The Times as a Peninsula newspaper, that's for sure. Still, BANG economies of scale kept the sheet alive for a surprisingly long time, albeit as a shell of what it once was. Once outside investors (banks, etc.) got control of MediaNews, all bets were off. The Times became nothing more than a cost-cutting opportunity within the Mercury-News sphere. Its eventual demise was predicted nearly 20 years ago by more than one savvy observer. It just took longer than expected to perish. So what's next? The Chronicle? That would not be a shock at all.

Anonymous said...

All above said well. The part that is the worse is the Back Stabbing Managers Merc has, and had.
As known, THEIR DAY WILL COME

Anonymous said...

My Uncle Dean is doing a fine job in making newspapers the best they can be. I'm so proud of him.