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BANG nixes rebranding; Oakland Trib to move back to downtown

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On second thought, forget Bay Area News Group’s plan to trash tradition and “rebrand” the Oakland imageTribune and Contra Costa Times out of masthead existence. It isn’t happening, BANG president Mac Tully announced today at a presser at the Oakland paper, saying that parent MediaNews Group had gotten the message that “people wanted to keep their local papers.” The idea of renaming the Trib the “East Bay Tribune” and the Contra Costa Times “The Times” didn’t gain much traction, he acknowledged.

In another nod to Oakland civic pride, the BANG executive said that the Tribune will move out of the 12-story office building above the 880 freeway near the Coliseum it has occupied for years and return to its historic roots in downtown Oakland early next year. Just where, exactly, hasn’t been determined. Tully and Tribune editor Martin Reynolds said several office locations are being considered. One place not on the list: the newspaper’s longtime former home in the landmark Tribune Tower, whose owner is in bankruptcy.

Tully also said that the Tribune and several affiliated mastheads, including the Fremont Argus and Hayward Daily Review, will discontinue home delivery on Mondays, although print copies will still be available in news boxes. It’s a cost-cutting experiment MediaNews has already tried at a couple of its smaller dailies with “little subscriber push back.”

Among other items that came out of today’s event:
  • BANG now projects there will be “about 25” editorial layoffs as part of its previously announced rebranding/downsizing to take effect Nov. 2, not the 40 to 45 speculated earlier.
  • When it moves downtown the Tribune will adopt an “open-to-the-community newsroom” concept with media labs, blogging stations, Wi-Fi access and classes taught by the public and, apparently, even news staffers.
  • Reynolds, the Trib editor, is also being given the title of senior editor for community engagement for BANG, and will oversee the community media labs.
  • The Trib is partnering with The Maynard Institute, co-founded by the newspaper’s legendary one-time owner, the late Robert Maynard, to help with the media labs. Maynard’s daughter, Dori J. Maynard, the journalism education institute’s president, was among those on hand today.
  • Still up for grabs is just where Contra Costa Times editorial employees will be housed once its Walnut Creek printing facility is shuttered and, presumably, the large newsroom adjacent to it in the Shadelands office park. Walnut Creek officials are pushing to have the CoCo Times newsroom stay in town, but Tully acknowledged that Concord is still in the mix.

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