San Francisco-based newspaper publisher Bay Area News Group (BANG) is reversing plans to amalgamate 11 of its papers into two titles. The Oakland Tribune and The Contra Costa Times will now retain their names.
In August, BANG announced plans to print The Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus, and West County Times under a single name—the East Bay Tribune—as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. The Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald, and East County Times, meanwhile, were to be merged as The Times.
Instead, the publishers are now cancelling home delivery on Mondays as a cost-saving measure. Some newsroom cuts are going ahead, however; The Alameda Times-Star will become part of the Oakland Tribune. The Tri-Valley Herald, Valley Times, and San Joaquin Herald will be rebranded the Tri-Valley Times. The publisher now plans to ax around 25 editorial positions in its East Bay newsrooms, rather than the projected 40 layoffs.
BANG president Mac Tully said the company decided to reverse the mergers “after carefully considering the feedback we received.” The revised strategy “maintains the majority of our current mastheads and includes bringing the community into the newsroom," he said in a statement.
The company also announced plans for “community media labs” to teach reporting and blogging in downtown Oakland, Calif.
Oakland Tribune editor Martin Reynolds is stepping down from his current position to oversee the new media labs. He says the media centers may offset any anger about the canceled home deliveries. "I realize some people may be upset,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But the reality is that the savings we get by discontinuing that home delivery will help us direct resources to other things that will help us engage with the community."