OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- It's going to be 'end of story,' -30-, and ### for several Bay Area newspapers and the local journalists and reporters who work for them.
That's because the Oakland Tribune, The Contra Costa Times and several other local dailies will disappear in just a few weeks due to a mass consolidation by the Bay Area News Group.
The move signals a new era for Bay Area newspaper readers who will find their local papers replaced by two publications serving the East Bay and South Bay. It also signals the end of an era for many who work in the struggling print newspaper industry.
Starting April 5, the East Bay Times and the Mercury News will debut on newsstands and paper routes around the bay. The former will be the consolidation of the Oakland Tribune, the Daily Review in Hayward, the Argus in Fremont, and the Contra Costa Times. The San Mateo County Times and the San Jose Mercury News are folding into the latter.
The mergers will also mean newsroom layoffs. The Bay Area News Group plans to cut 20 percent of its staff. Some senior staffers will receive buyouts, others will get pink slips.
The Bay Area News Group says the move is the result of a survey of print readers last fall.
"Readers have been quite clear with us about how much they like their newspapers and what they want more of, and we're changing to serve them better," wrote Sharon Ryan, BANG's president and publisher in a memo to employees. "We'll give them better focused front page stories that cover national and Bay Area news from each region's point of view."
Carl Hall, executive officer of Pacific Media Workers Guild, the union that represents BANG believes the consolidation will hurt newspapers and the communities they serve. He told the San Francisco Chronicle he doesn't believe readers asked for these changes.
"Management claims the readers asked for this. I have a hard time believing too many people demanded a 20 percent or more reduction in editorial staff from their already devastated newsrooms," said Hall. "This is a deep, deep cut. These papers do not have any excess left in them. Everybody there is functioning at full tilt already, so here we go again, asking our newsrooms to do more with less."
BANG also announced to launch a new video team and a technology overhaul to make their "mobile and desktop websites simpler and faster-loading."
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