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Paton appointed CEO of MediaNews Group

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 7 2011 8:49 p.m. MDT

If JRC's daily newspapers continue on the trend they're on now, all 18 newsrooms will have been paid for with digital revenues by the end of the year, he said.

"They say newspaper people can't change. We're proving we can," Paton said. "We're a long way from being done, but it's a start."

MediaNews Group's parent, Affiliated Media Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2010. Like other newspaper publishers, Affiliated had borrowed heavily before Internet competition and the recession ate away at advertising revenue, making it difficult to repay loans.

Affiliated emerged from bankruptcy protection two months later with its $930 million debt reduced to about $165 million. In exchange, its lenders acquired 89 percent of Affliated's common stock.

Singleton, who co-founded and became CEO of MediaNews in 1983, emerged from the reorganization with an 11 percent stake in the company.

In January, MediaNews Group said it planned to replace Singleton as its CEO so he could focus on exploring possible combinations with other publishers while his successor tries to make more money on the Internet.

MediaNews Group in August announced it was combining most of its daily newspapers in the San Francisco Bay area to save money on print editions so the company can invest in ways to bring in more revenue from the Internet and mobile devices.

Beginning Nov. 2, those dozen or so newspapers will shed their distinct identities and adopt one of two new brands, the East Bay Tribune and The Times. The Bay Area News Group, a division that operates the affected newspapers, expects to reduce a staff of 1,500 by about 8 percent, or 120. An office in Walnut Creek, Calif., will close.

Most of the cuts are expected to occur within the newsrooms and operations that print the newspapers.

The largest newspapers affected are The Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek. The Oakland, Calif., newspaper will be folded into the East Bay Tribune brand along with the Alameda Times-Star, The Daily Review, The Argus in Fremont and West County Times in Richmond, Calif. The Contra Costa Times will be blended with The Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald and East County Times.

Most of those newspapers already had been re-classified as editions of MediaNews' largest Bay-area newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News. But the newspapers retained their own names, making that switch less noticeable to readers.

In another change announced last month, the Mercury News' brand will be stamped on the San Mateo County Times, another nearby daily owned by MediaNews.

MediaNews has been experimenting with pay walls that require readers to buy subscriptions to see some online content. Paton, not known as a fan of that structure, said he would assess how it's working before deciding next steps.

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