Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Layoffs | GCI Calif. news partnership cuts 120 jobs; eleven newspapers consolidated under two names

Taking regional publishing up a notch, the San Francisco Bay Area News Group is consolidating its 11 daily papers under just two nameplates, reducing overall employment by 8%, or 120 jobs.

The papers are mostly owned by Denver-based MediaNews Group, but minority owners include Gannett through the companies' California Newspapers Partnership.

MediaNews developments such as those disclosed Tuesday are of particular interest to Gannett Blog readers because the company's experience could influence GCI's direction.

For example, MediaNews instituted regional copy and design desks in Northern California well before GCI announced plans a year ago to establish five page production hubs to serve virtually all its 82 U.S. newspapers.

GCI has also been experimenting with more regional approaches to publishing, including single publishers and regional news over multiple publications, in Wisconsin, Central New York and, most recently, in New Jersey. This, too, has resulted in job losses. For example, in New Jersey, three dailies said they were reducing newsroom employment nearly in half last January.

Community news loss
Tuesday, MediaNews said it was making the changes to emphasize its regional approach to news coverage and free up resources to funnel into its digital initiatives, according to a report in one of the papers, the Oakland Tribune, across the bay from San Francisco. The move to streamline the group's operations will help reduce expenses as print advertising revenue continues to fall.

Left unsaid, however, is the fact that in a regional news approach, less attention is paid to town-specific coverage, further weakening competitiveness with online start-ups like AOL's Patch network.

MediaNews is the second-biggest newspaper publisher by circulation. GCI is No. 1, with USA Today included.

MediaNews and GCI also are partners in the Detroit joint operating agency, which publishes the GCI-owned Detroit Free Press and MediaNews' Detroit News. The two companies are also affiliated in publishing operations in Texas, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

Partnership ownership details
GCI owns a 20% interest in California Newspapers Partnership, which includes 19 daily California newspapers, and a 41% interest in Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership, which includes six daily newspapers in Texas and New Mexico and four newspapers in Pennsylvania, according to GCI's annual 10-K report to federal securities regulators.

The third investor in the California partnership is Stephens Media Group of Las Vegas.

The 10-K doesn't identify the California newspapers by name. On its Facebook page, however, the California partnership lists many of the newspapers included in yesterday's BANG announcement.


  1. Really? Screw the locals and still expect people to buy your product, even though it becomes more irrelevant. I thought the idea of producing a product was to make it as sellable as possible. If you really don't want to make that product...sell it to someone who does.


  3. I would say, that most workers at most sites would love to have the opportunity to pull their papers away from Gannett, and produce the product that the readers and advertisers want.
    In fact this did happen, when Gannett closed two weeklies in the metro market. The community didn't like it...the people who lost their jobs pulled together along with a few community leaders and started their own paper. That was over 3 years ago they are still publishing and making someone a decent profit!
    I would like to know if Corp. was ever told that two papers they wanted closed are going strong today and competing with the metro zones.

  4. Stay tuned. If your state has more than one gannett paper expect a similar outcome.

  5. Consolidating titles like this didn't work well in Westchester, where circulation has plummeted. Of course there was no real digital strategy when Gannett did this, so MediaNews' move might actually be smart now considering the dynamics of the Bay Area economy. But they have to really wow people with the digital offerings or lose their ability to ever do so again. It's the kind of "all-in" move I expect many newspaper companies are either implementing -- or will implement -- since most of the publicly traded ones are sheep.

  6. Ah - the East Bay Tribune! A callback to the Reach for the Peach days of Eastbay Today, when Gannett owned the Tribune and decided to launch a morning paper alongside the Trib's PM delivery.

    Is Local, local, local dead?

  7. Another disgusting company, this one run by penny-pinching Singleton. He is very ill with MS and should realize that he can't take the $$$ with him.

  8. Talk about opening the door for smaller competitors to get underneath with more local, targeted news and advertising.

  9. Singleton started regional desks 20 years ago with the Alameda Newspaper Group in the Bay Area. He is the king of clustering. He and Gannett are real pieces of work. I have worked for both, unfortunately. I think Singleton is worse than Gannett, but only by a little. Jackals they are.


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