In a milestone for East Bay newspapers, the Bay Area News Group announced top-level newsroom management changes Thursday that put San Jose-based editors in charge of operations for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune for the first time.
Bay Area News Group-East Bay's two top Walnut Creek-based editors – Executive Editor Kevin Keane and Managing Editor Pete Wevurski – are out.
Bert Robinson, Mercury News managing editor, now is in charge of all news gathering for the organizations, according to an internal memo.
An employee at the Contra Costa Times said the mood in the newsroom was quiet and gloomy. The employee said the announcement wasn't necessarily surprising, given the other cutbacks at the newspapers the past few years.
"You can take only so many body blows before you become numb to it," the employee said.
The memo from San Jose Mercury News Publisher Mac Tully said, "Continuing the process that began with the creation of the Bay Area News Group, the news divisions of all Bay Area News Group newspapers will now operate under a single, common management team under the direction of Dave Butler, editor of the Mercury News and vice president for news for MediaNews Group."
Bay Area News Group-East Bay operates the Times daily newspapers in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, the Oakland Tribune, The Argus, The Daily Review, the Tri-Valley Herald and several weekly community papers. Here the full list Bay Area News Group's publications. The group also publishes ContraCostaTimes.com and InsideBayArea.com.
Here's the full memo:
June 30, 2011
To: All employees
Beginning today, we are taking another significant step in streamlining our organization to maximize our operating efficiency. Continuing the process that began with the creation of the Bay Area News Group, the news divisions of all Bay Area News Group newspapers will now operate under a single, common management team under the direction of Dave Butler, editor of the Mercury News and vice president for news for MediaNews Group. This move follows similar consolidations in our other divisions.
Dave's appointment and the announcement of the first official BANG-wide news management team are logical next steps in our efforts to make full use of the breadth and depth of the entire group. While a less-formal arrangement has been in place for some time, our recently negotiated labor agreements recognize complete consolidation.
This reorganization will have an immediate impact on top management, and it's with regret that we also announce that Kevin Keane and Pete Wevurski are leaving the company today. Please join with me in thanking them for their years of service and wishing them well in their new adventures.
Dave Butler has made the following appointments for the new BANG-wide management team:
-Bert Robinson, managing editor of the Mercury News, was named BANG managing editor-print and will oversee all news gathering.
-Randall Keith, BANG director of digital content, was named managing editor-digital and will continue to oversee all digital efforts as well as breaking news coverage and photography.
-Ron Kitagawa, assistant managing editor for production in the East Bay, was named managing editor-production and will oversee copy editing, design and graphics for all newspapers.
-Mike Frankel, Mercury News metro editor, was named assistant managing editor for enterprise reporting and will oversee enterprise and in-depth stories, regional reporting and projects throughout BANG.
-Lisa Wrenn, assistant managing editor in the East Bay who had also been coordinating features throughout BANG, was named AME-features.
-Bud Geracie, Mercury News executive sports editor who had been coordinating sports throughout the group, becomes BANG executive sports editor.
-Nick Lammers, director of photography for the East Bay newspapers, was named director of photography for BANG.
-Steve Trousdale, Mercury News business editor who had been coordinating business coverage with the East Bay, was named BANG business editor.
The opinion page departments, which work together when that is appropriate, will remain separate and editorial-page editors Barbara Marshman and Dan Hatfield will report to Dave. The editorial boards will continue to have different members and to take different positions, based on the mission and values of each newspaper.
Many details still must be worked out on how this new team will work on a daily basis. The senior editors will be splitting their time between the East Bay and the South Bay. I know Dave welcomes suggestions on how best to proceed.
Please join me in congratulating this team of top-notch journalists.