By Paul Gillin | August 25, 2011 - 4:08 pm - Posted in Business News, Local news, R.I.P.

Oakland Tribune front pageMediaNews Group, which has been on the ropes financially as it struggles with debt, will take drastic action in its Bay Area stronghold, consolidating 11 local newspapers in the East Bay into two regional newspapers and laying off 120 people, or 8% of its staff. About 40 editors and 80 production people are expected to be let go.

Beginning on November 2, the Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, The Argus and the West County Times will be consolidated under the name East Bay Tribune.

Six other titles – the Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald and East County Times will be rebranded as simply the Times. The San Mateo County Times will be merged into the San Jose Mercury News. The Bay Area News Group, which is a subsidiary of MediaNews, will also start two weekly newspapers.

The most visible casualty of the cost-cutting move is the Oakland Tribune, a daily that has been published since 1874. The most recent circulation figures we could find listed its daily circulation at nearly 93,000 in 2009. It has been the only daily newspaper in Oakland since 1950. The Tribune won the Pulitzer Prize for photography in 1950 and 1989. The other major daily title to be closed is the Contra Costa Times, which was founded in 1947. It has a daily circulation of 168,000.

While the move might appear to be counter to the trend toward hyper local news coverage, MediaNews is maintaining some exclusive local content. All newspapers will have a standalone local news section daily.

The company’s press release puts a predictably cheery front on the news. The result of all the closures and layoffs will be “greater emphasis on providing high-impact, regional and local coverage.”

In contrast, the editor of the Oakland Tribune told Columbia Journalism Review, “We’ve already gotten pretty lean. It’s impossible to expect us to be doing all that we did before.”

Ken Doctor has a poignant and thoughtful obituary on Nieman Journalism Lab. He brings home the impact of a business decision on the community residents who had relied on their local newspapers for years to represent their interests.

More coverage on KQED.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 at 4:08 pm and is filed under Business News, Local news, R.I.P.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

8 Comments

  1. August 27, 2011 @ 10:44 pm



    I wanted to see the Oakland Tribune’s Pulitzer winning photos. A quick search found this link: http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_13525492

    But, it’s 404 on the Tribune’s site, and a search of the site archives also fails to find it.

    This sad fact explains so much of what’s wrong with the newspaper industry. At some point they published a photo essay of their 1989 Pulitzer winning photos on the web, but they are no longer found on the paper’s website. If the paper doesn’t have enough pride to keep a page like this up for all time, so everyone can see the photos that won this prestigious prize, what point is there in publishing a paper at all?

    Posted by JC Dill
  2. August 28, 2011 @ 6:40 pm



    He brings home the impact of a business decision on the community residents who had relied on their local newspapers for years to represent their interests.

    But the local newspapers never represented their interests.

    Now that the web is capable of doing a better job of catering to the needs of businesses who had been paying the freight those businesses are dropping the paper like it was on fire…

    Its too bad that the media had been using the fact that businesses had been willing to put up with the flaws of advertising in mass media as better than the alternative (being totally unknown,) to push the medias’ editorial agenda.

    It was a fatally flawed business model.

    And that’s when all the trouble started…

    The business community had its Bloomberg machines and its new letters and its value-adding research departments and they weren’t bothered with charging for the value they added.

    Where’s the value being added to by a local rag?

    Come to think of it, where’s the value being added to by a national rag?

    In both cases you’re probably a shill for some agenda or other,

    If you’re just some j-school hack, you’d better be good at doing research, otherwise…

    Posted by msbpodcast
  3. August 29, 2011 @ 1:59 am



    [...] Costa Times, which was founded in 1947. It has a daily circulation of 168,000.” Read more here. [NOTE: The owner of the Oakland Tribune, MediaNews Group is also the owner of the York Dispatch, [...]

  4. August 31, 2011 @ 3:19 pm



    [...] The Leeds News is one of many casualties in the printed newspaper industry, which experienced record sales in 2007 before plunging head first into closures and mergers. One doesn’t have to look far for news of printed papers being shut down. According to a newspaperdeathwatch.com article: [...]

  5. September 15, 2011 @ 6:49 am



    [...] month, Gillin’s site reported on the demise of the Bay Area News Group, which consolidated 11 newspapers into two surviving publications, costing about 120 people their jobs. These are just a few casualties among many as the print [...]

  6. September 25, 2011 @ 9:26 am
  7. October 9, 2011 @ 4:06 am



    offerte mutui…

    [...]Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and Other Bay Area Papers to Close | Newspaper Death Watch[...]…

    Posted by guida mutui
  8. November 4, 2011 @ 10:02 pm



    B.A.N.G., you’re dead.

    Posted by M.E.