Hearst filed a legal document today that says it will buy the South Bay Daily Breeze from Copley, then sell the Breeze to Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group along with the Monterey County Herald and the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press. AP has a story. What it means locally is a lot of angst at the Breeze, which reportedly pays its journalists more and is staffed more generously than at Singleton's notoriously frugal local flagship, the Daily News. Singleton's recent takeover of the San Jose Mercury-News led to layoffs there, and many at the Breeze are all too aware that when he bought the Long Beach Press-Telegram in 1997 salaries and benefits were slashed, many journalists were fired and the paper scaled back expensive kinds of reporting. Some feel the quality of the Press-Telegram never recovered. Even before Friday's deal, the MediaNews papers in Los Angeles County have been consolidating functions, laying off staff and trying to cut costs in the face of dropping circulation and ad revenue.
The other journalists who should be concerned are those in the Los Angeles bureau of Copley News Service. Dan Laidman at City Hall (in the job David Zahniser left in February) and bureau chief Gordon Smith write for the Daily Breeze and other Copley papers. (* Fleshing out the bureau: Matt Krasnowski covers courts and Norma Meyer the entertainment industry.) There are whispers that Copley will shutter the bureau once it no longer owns the Breeze. Copley officials have said the company will focus on its home turf in San Diego.