Newsroom budget cuts by MediaNews have been met with protests in Southern California and a warning from the Society of Professional Journalists in Northern California.
In Southern California, MediaNews is merging the 65,000-circulation Torrance Daily Breeze and the 88,000 Long Beach Press-Telegram, which will eliminate 19 jobs and put the two papers under the same local management based in Torrance, according to AP. Staff at the Long Beach paper who were not immediately laid off were told to go to the Torrance office for interviews for their same positions, according to a report in the Cal State Long Beach 49er. The Long Beach operation, once a jewel in the Knight Ridder crown, will essentially become a bureau for the Torrance paper.
Angry staffers and readers complained to the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday, holding signs saying, “Save Our Jobs” and “Don’t Take the Local Out Of Local News,” according to the 49er (see picture). Council members said they fear Long Beach will lose solid local coverage with portions of the Press-Telegram based elsewhere.
“We need you. We need the hometown news,” said Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal about the Press-Telegram at the city council meeting, according to the 49er.
City council member Tonia Reyes Uranga said the city spends $100,000 a year in advertisements in the Press-Telegram, and that she would like to see where that money is going.
In Northern California, SPJ issued a statement expressing concerns about job cuts at the MediaNews papers in the region and vowing to monitor the quality of journalism in those papers. The statement came out on Wednesday, before the Mercury News and other MediaNews papers in the region cut a total of 157 jobs. The statement said:
- The NorCal chapter will work with its membership to collect data documenting the effects of the cutbacks on San Francisco Bay Area news coverage. Chapter representatives will seek direct discussions with senior management of MediaNews as well as journalists, union representatives, media analysts, academics, community leaders and other interested parties. The board plans to share its findings with the public and with concerned governmental officials.
(Photo credit: Matt Sun, Cal State Long Beach Daily 49er)