Bay Area News Group consolidates newspapers and production

With the increasing popularity of multimedia and digital news, the Bay Area News Group will undergo several changes in the following months, including the “rebranding” of its East Bay publications and a streamlining of its printing operations.

On Aug. 23, the group, which is one of the largest publication companies in the nation, announced that it will consolidate its 11 East Bay newspapers, into just two papers — a move that will cut its staff by 8 percent.

Beginning Nov. 2, the Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald and East County Times will become The Times, while the Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times will be combined under the East Bay Tribune masthead.

“From a nostalgic perspective, anyone who loves Oakland can’t help but feel a sense of loss,” said Martin Reynolds, editor of the Oakland Tribune in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “But I think we would feel a lot more loss if the Tribune were gone entirely. For me personally, what’s most important is that there still is a Tribune and that we’re going to be in the community and have a presence.”

The group will continue operating from Concord, Hayward and San Jose where it will combine all its production operations, but will close its current location in Walnut Creek , according to a press release by the company. As a result, 120 employees, of the current 1,500-employee staff, will be laid off.

While the print production will be downsized, the group hopes that the changes will result in enhanced multimedia and digital coverage, according to the press release.

This shift in focus to online news is not exclusive to the Bay Area News Group publications, as The Berkeley Daily Planet ceased its print publication in February 2010 following a decrease in its advertisement revenues.