The Bay Area News Group (BANG) on Tuesday announced a "rebranding" of most of its East Bay newspapers, including "a streamlining of its print operations."
Eleven East Bay newspapers will be consolidated into two: the Contra Costa Times and the East Bay Tribune (formerly the Oakland Tribune).
BANG announced its intent to close the Contra Costa Times building on Shadelands Drive "to move to a smaller one in Contra Costa County," the San Jose Mercury News reported. (The Mercury News is the flagship of BANG). BANG would like to remain in Walnut Creek, said Nina Lesowitz, a spokeswoman for BANG from JStokes, an advertising agency in Walnut Creek.
The company will consolidate production into three existing plants in Concord, Hayward and San Jose. Mac Tully, the San Jose-based president of BANG, said that production efficiencies at those plants "will enable BANG to utilize a smaller facility than the one currently operating in Walnut Creek."
The streamlining will involve layoffs from the company's East Bay papers.
Lesowitz said 120 positions will be eliminated out of about 1,500 in the company by Nov. 2, the scheduled date for most of the changes to take effect.
About 40 of those are expected to be newsroom positions, one source told Patch. Lesowitz said it's difficult to be that precise. "Management is going to evaluate who will be leaving and who will be switching over to a different position," she said.
Tully said existing newspaper titles will continue to be published after the changes take effect on Nov. 2, but under two consolidated mastheads: the Contra Costa Times and the East Bay Tribune (including the current Oakland Tribune), according to the Mercury News article. That consolidation is due to take place Nov. 2.
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.
This shakeup comes almost two months after l in which BANG put San Jose-based editors in charge of the operations of the Contra Costa Times and the Tribune, including the ouster of two longtime Walnut Creek BANG editorial leaders, Kevin Keane and Pete Wevurski.
It's just the latest in three years of restructuring and layoffs the company has gone through in an attempt to cope with losses in advertising sparked by the recession, lagging circulation and a move in ad dollars to the Internet.
(Click this link to read about a cut of 17 employees at the company in 2009.)
The current rebranding includes 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, the Mercury News said.
The consolidation will include the launching of two new weekly newspapers under the BANG flag — the Valley Journal, serving Alamo, Danville and San Ramon; and the Times-Herald, serving Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol, according to a Frequently Asked Questions page on the Mercury-News website.
"We will continue to be the largest newsgathering and newspaper publisher in the Bay Area," said Tully. "We remain committed to embracing emerging digital technologies to buttress our existing products and services."
"I hope the paper stays around for a while," wrote Oliver jb, a commenter on Patch's Facebook page. "The Internet just doesn't have the right crinkle sound like a real paper, and I need that with my morning coffee!"