In a piece on semi-retiring Long Beach columnist Tom Hennessy, the District Weekly's Dave Wielenga says the Press-Telegram is losing local control in the consolidation of roles and content within the papers owned by Dean Singleton's Los Angeles Newspaper Group.
There may never be another Tom Hennessy at the Press-Telegram, and by that I mean that Long Beach’s daily paper is dying. The District has learned that ultimate authority over its news coverage has been shifted to Phillip Sanfield, the editor of the Daily Breeze—a newspaper in Torrance. Sanfield’s power now apparently overrides that of the P-T’s longtime executive editor, Rich Archbold, who at least gets to keep his title.
“I don’t want to spend much time talking with you about this, except to say that you’re not correct!” Sanfield snapped when asked about the arrangement in what, as he promised, turned out to be a very short telephone interview. “I’m working with the editors at the Press-Telegram, working with Rich [Archbold] and John [Futch], looking at how we can do things as a group, more efficiently, between our two papers. Okay? Thanks.”
Sanfield cut off a follow-up question by hanging up, but his denial was contradicted by several sources at the Press-Telegram.
“Sanfield has told us that, when push comes to shove, he has the authority to make the decisions,” said Joe Segura, one of the few veteran reporters—hell, one of the few reporters, period—on a staff that has become skeletal, not only in numbers but also in wages and benefits. “He has said it a number of times. He’s not too shy about talking to reporters who are not from The District.”
Sanfield’s new role at the P-T is the latest in a long series of consolidating moves by its corporate owner, MediaNews Group, Inc., the massive but over-leveraged outfit that operates newspapers across the country from its home base in Denver. Those tactics, which have been going on for awhile, are steadily bleeding Long Beach’s daily paper to death.
He concludes, "What happens if Long Beach eventually loses the Press-Telegram? Basically, everything gets a little bit worse." The District's staff blog goes by the name Staff Infection.