News Union ranks thinned in Calif.

Journalism Guild takes a dues hit

Bay Area News Group East Bay undertook company-wide job cuts Friday, affecting every department, including the newsroom, advertising, circulation and production. Separately, Bay Area News Group-East Bay said it will notify a local labor union that it intends to reduce the newsroom rank-and-file workforce by nearly 13 percent. BANG-East Bay operates numerous papers in the East Bay and San Mateo County.

BANG-East Bay would not specify the total number of job reductions across the company.

The company also said it plans to lay off 29 out of 226 employees in a newsroom operation whose journalists voted this month to be represented by the Newspaper Guild.

The publications affected by the restructuring are owned by California Newspapers Partnership, whose managing partner is Denver-based Media News Group Inc.

"We are not immune to the financial challenges facing the economy in the East Bay and the newspaper business in general," John Armstrong, president and publisher of BANG-East Bay, said in a prepared release.

The union-represented journalists who are being laid off will be notified on or before July 11, the company said.

"It's a really sad day for our newsroom," said Sara Steffens, an East Bay journalist and a labor organizer for the union. "We'll be meeting next week with MediaNews labor relations attorneys to discuss the next steps."

Like virtually every other newspaper operation in the country, this paper has been hammered by a slump in advertising revenue and a defection of readers to the Internet.

BANG-East Bay is forecasting a 10 percent drop in revenue over the next 12 months, on top of a 17 percent revenue decline in the fiscal year that ends on June 30.

"In my nearly five decades in this business, I've never experienced a downturn so deep and so broad," Armstrong said.

BANG-East Bay's newspaper operations include the Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, East County Times, Oakland Tribune, The Argus in Fremont, The Daily Review in Hayward, The Tri-Valley Herald in Pleasanton and The San Mateo County Times.


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