October 3, 2012

North County Times | KPBS | Voice of San Diego
U-T San Diego notified the California Employment Development Department Monday it plans to lay off 80 people at the North County Times. “One-third of the total North County Times’ staff, including 24 from the newsroom, were told Monday that they will be laid off,” the Times’ Elizabeth Aguilera reports.

Times Editor Kent Davy will leave the paper, KPBS’ Alison St John reports.

Davy said he was informed he would not be moving forward with the new management that takes over the paper today, though he was asked to be on a transition team for an indeterminate period.

U-T owner Doug Manchester announced he would purchase the Times from Lee Enterprises on Sept. 11, and the sale closed Monday. “The fact is our obvious areas of duplication will yield some cutbacks,” U-T CEO John Lynch told Aguilera. “We are going to try to keep as many as possible but it’s inevitable there will be some consolidation. We have been able to keep the total amount of layoffs to under 100 employees.”

The Times notified the EDD this past June it would lay off 56 people, including insert machine operators and truck drivers. (The notice is on p. 35 of this PDF.) The paper went through three rounds of layoffs in 2008.

At the time of the sale, San Diego Business Journal wrote, “[T]here is speculation that the North County Times is currently profitable and was sold for five times its cash flow, or between $8 million and $10 million.”

Manchester’s U-T has become an unabashed forum for his business interests and views. Last week Rob Davis wrote that Manchester’s purchases entitled him to do what he wanted with his newspapers. Still, “We can say goodbye to the Times as an important second newspaper voice in the county,” Davis wrote.

The U-T and North County Times tussled over the same turf, but they weren’t as competitive as newspapers in cities that have (or had) two big metro dailies. Here, the U-T was the impersonal metro paper trying to connect with 3 million people. The Times was the community paper with a story about your kid’s football team in it.

Lynch told Aguilera the Times’ “prep coverage and individual cities coverage” was particularly valuable to its new owners. He said U-T would push its Spanish-language paper Enlace into North County and plans to “launch an edition of Vida Latina,” a weekly Spanish-language magazine, “up in North County” as well.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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