UPDATED: Now with video!
Media News [previous coverage], the outfit that controls largest block of newspaper circulation has embarked on yet another round of layoffs, both in the Southern California operation [aka Los Angeles News Group] and up here in North California.
We’ll start with a memo that went out today to newsies at the Bay Area News Group [previously]:
From: Tully, Mac
Sent: Thu 6/30/2011 10:15 AM
To: &SSC ALL; &EB All; &MN All
Subject: BANG Editorial Streamlining Announcement
June 30, 2011
To: All employees
Beginning today, we are taking another significant step in streamlining our organization to maximize our operating efficiency. Continuing the process that began with the creation of the Bay Area News Group, the news divisions of all Bay Area News Group newspapers will now operate under a single, common management team under the direction of Dave Butler, editor of the Mercury News and vice president for news for MediaNews Group. This move follows similar consolidations in our other divisions.
Dave’s appointment and the announcement of the first official BANG-wide news management team are logical next steps in our efforts to make full use of the breadth and depth of the entire group. While a less-formal arrangement has been in place for some time, our recently negotiated labor agreements recognize complete consolidation.
This reorganization will have an immediate impact on top management, and it’s with regret that we also announce that Kevin Keane and Pete Wevurski are leaving the company today. Please join with me in thanking them for their years of service and wishing them well in their new adventures.
Dave Butler has made the following appointments for the new BANG-wide management team:
-Bert Robinson, managing editor of the Mercury News, was named BANG managing editor-print and will oversee all news gathering.
-Randall Keith, BANG director of digital content, was named managing editor-digital and will continue to oversee all digital efforts as well as breaking news coverage and photography.
-Ron Kitagawa, assistant managing editor for production in the East Bay, was named managing editor-production and will oversee copy editing, design and graphics for all newspapers.
-Mike Frankel, Mercury News metro editor, was named assistant managing editor for enterprise reporting and will oversee enterprise and in-depth stories, regional reporting and projects throughout BANG.
-Lisa Wrenn, assistant managing editor in the East Bay who had also been coordinating features throughout BANG, was named AME-features.
-Bud Geracie, Mercury News executive sports editor who had been coordinating sports throughout the group, becomes BANG executive sports editor.
-Nick Lammers, director of photography for the East Bay newspapers, was named director of photography for BANG.
-Steve Trousdale, Mercury News business editor who had been coordinating business coverage with the East Bay, was named BANG business editor.
The opinion page departments, which work together when that is appropriate, will remain separate and editorial-page editors Barbara Marshman and Dan Hatfield will report to Dave. The editorial boards will continue to have different members and to take different positions, based on the mission and values of each newspaper.
Many details still must be worked out on how this new team will work on a daily basis. The senior editors will be splitting their time between the East Bay and the South Bay. I know Dave welcomes suggestions on how best to proceed.
Please join me in congratulating this team of top-notch journalists.
The net effect? Handing all editorial control over all the company’s newspapers East Bay newspapers to folks who work in San Jose.
UPDATE: Gary Scott, after perusing the BANG memo featured in this post, observed that for the Media News California publications, “[i]n the past decade, mergers and consolidation have turned the individual papers into something of a news blob.”
With that we bring you our nomination for the official BANG theme song, composed and conducted by Burt Bacharach for the 1958 film that made Steve McQueen a movie star.
And the sad news from Southern California
From news blogger Gary Scott in Southern California come some of the details of Media news cuts there:
Here’s an update on the layoffs at the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group: Seven people total lost their jobs: two of them were on the business side, five from the newsroom. The affected newsroom employees are Hector Gonzalez, Eric Reed, Karen Lee, Coye Sloan and Steve Wytucki.
Add: Gonzalez was the city editor at the Pasadena Star-News, one of the three papers in the SGVN chain. His position will not be filled. Metro Editor Frank Girardot will continue as the primary editor for the paper.
In addition to the seven people who lost jobs in LANG’s San Gabriel Valley group, I’m told the Los Angeles Daily News cut a position in its circulation department, and three or more newsroom staffers at the Long Beach Press-Telegram were laid off. I believe the PT layoffs are part of a consolidation plan announced in April, but I’m still awaiting details.
More information comes from Allison Jean Eaton of the Long Beach Post:
The photography and sports departments at the [Long Beach] Press-Telegram have ceased to exist, with most of those formerly employed in those departments now reporting for work at the Daily Breeze as employees of the Torrance daily newspaper.
Their first day at the Breeze was Tuesday.
The employees of those departments three weeks ago were forced to reapply for their jobs at the PT’s sister paper, and not all of them made the cut, according to information provided by the PT’s Kristopher Hanson.
Former PT staff photographers Steven Georges and Diandra Jay on Monday were handed pink slips and told to clear out their desks. The same was the case for sports columnist Frank Burlison, who was also laid off Monday.
Georges had been with the PT for more than 15 years, Hanson said, and Jay, for more than 10. Burlison, however, had both of them beat, having worked for the PT for more than 20 years.
Just the night before, on Sunday, Jay walked away with an award from the Los Angeles Press Club during its 53rd annual awards gala. She took first place in sports photo for a shot entitled “Celebration.”
“The Press-Telegram has lost some of its longtime names,” Hanson said. “It’s all very confusing at this point.”
The new model in the newspaper business is ruthless downsizing and delocalization by consolidation chain editorial operations.
The net impact is fewer reporters writing fewer stories, which are then edited by folks who have no connection or deep background knowledge about the communities reporters write about.
More errors are bound to creep in, and reporters won’t be guided by editors who could point them to other sources of information.
In sum, newspapers are becoming ever more irrelevant, and will continue to hemorrhage both readers and advertisers.
And that means the folks who pull the strings will be able to get away with even more.