Bay Area News Group to lay off workers, rebrand papers

Company to lump East Bay papers under two mastheads, shift focus on digital media

In the latest sign of economic distress in the newspaper industry, the Bay Area News Group announced Tuesday its plan to consolidate its printing operations and rebrand its newspapers -- a move that the company said would lead to elimination of about 120 jobs.

The Bay Area News Group (BANG), whose publications include the San Jose Mercury News and the Daily News, plans to combine its East Bay papers and split them between two mastheads, the Times and the East Bay Tribune. Under the move, BANG's newspapers would continue to operate but would be leaner and more focused on multimedia. The restructuring effort also means that well-known newspapers such as the Oakland Tribune would now operate under a different name.

According to BANG's announcement, the new Times publication would include the Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald and East County Times.

The Oakland Tribune, the Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times would all be rebranded as the East Bay Tribune, according to BANG's announcement.

The San Mateo County Times would be branded under the San Jose Mercury News.

Each paper would continue to have a stand-alone local section, BANG announced.

The changes are slated to take effect Nov. 2.

"We're taking these actions to strengthen the company for the future and to offer additional value to readers and advertisers," BANG President Mac Tully said in the company's announcement. "With these changes, we will continue to serve our communities with high-quality daily and weekly newspapers featuring extensive local coverage.

"The continuing integration of the newspapers with digital products will allow readers to access timely news and information when, where and how they want it."

The newspaper announced that the restructuring efforts would lead to elimination of about 120 jobs from its staff of 1,500 -- an 8 percent reduction.

The company also plans to devote more resources to its digital products, including apps for the iPad and the iPhone.

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