Pleasanton Weekly

- August 26, 2011

Tri-Valley Herald, Contra Costa Times signing off under publisher's consolidation plan

Media News 'rebranding' its Bay Area publications, cutting staffs, closing Walnut Creek plant

by Jeb Bing

The Bay Area News Group announced Tuesday that it will fold 12 of its papers, including the Tri-Valley Herald and Contra Costa Times, under three different mastheads, a consolidation it called a "rebranding."

The various editions of the Contra Costa Times (East County Times/San Ramon Valley Times/Valley Times) as well as the Tri-Valley Herald and the San Joaquin Herald will be rebranded as The Times.

The Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times will be rebranded as the East Bay Tribune.

The San Mateo County Times will be branded under the Mercury News masthead and will continue to carry local news of the San Mateo area.

The newly consolidated newspapers will be introduced Nov. 2.

The Bay Area News Group -- known as BANG -- is a division of MediaNews Group. It made the announcement in what's now its flagship newspaper in California, the San Jose Mercury News. The firm also plans to shut down its Walnut Creek facility and lay off 120 people, or 8% of its 1,500 workers, mostly in production and editorial jobs. Employees who are retained and the company's printing production will be moved out of the Contra Costa Times facility in the Shadelands business park area of Walnut Creek to other locations.

Production operations will be consolidated into the company's three existing plants located in Concord, Hayward and San Jose. BANG said it recently increased production capacity at these facilities enabling it to utilize a smaller facility than the one currently operating in Walnut Creek.

BANG said the group's existing websites, including www.ContraCostaTimes.com and www.InsideBayArea.com, will continue to function.

MediaNews set up the BANG subsidiary to oversee various Northern California newspapers, including the former Alameda Newspaper Group and papers the parent company bought in 2006 from the former Knight Ridder Inc.

"These are challenging times for the newspaper industry," said Mac Tully, president of BANG, in a story carried Tuesday in the Mercury News.

"These adjustments, some of them very difficult, position us to execute our strategic plan to maintain and grow our position as the leading multimedia company in the Bay Area," Tully said. "We will continue to be the largest newsgathering and newspaper publisher in the Bay Area. We remain committed to embracing emerging digital technologies to buttress our existing products and services."

In the last several years, both the Contra Costa Times and the Tri-Valley Herald have seen circulation declining in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley.

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