By: M.L. STEIN
With cuts at the Daily Breeze, job losses hit 150 in coastal retrenchment
TWO OF THE three Copley Los Angeles Newspapers ceased publishing March 14 and the third, the Daily Breeze in Torrance, will reduce its work force by 100 employees, publisher Thomas J. Wafer Jr. announced to stunned staffers.
Copley shut the Outlook in Santa Monica and News-Pilot in San Pedro after market studies showed that the oceanside cities could no longer support separate newspapers,Wafer said. The Outlook’s circulation was 23,000 and the News-Pilot’s was 12,500. The Daily Breeze, with a circulation of 76,000, began fielding a daily zoned edition for the Los Angeles port city of San Pedro on March 16.
A Daily Breeze staffer said that rumors of the closures had surfaced in recent weeks, “but the news still came as a shock.”
Outlook editor Skip Rimer, who lost his job, commented: “As a newspaperman for 20 years, I know any time a newspaper closes, it’s painful, and it’s especially painful when it’s your own paper. Newspapers have an important role in society, and when you lose one, it’s one less voice in the community.”
David C. Copley, president of Copley Press Inc., which owns the three papers, said the closures will allow the company to focus its resources on the Daily Breeze, which has greater potential in the South Bay. Copley also publishes the San Diego Union-Tribune and eight dailies in Illinois. In February 1992, Copley shut down the afternoon San Diego Tribune and blended it into the morning Union, leaving San Diego a one-newspaper town.
Wafer said he hopes staff cuts at the Breeze can be achieved mostly through voluntary retirements and an enhanced buyout package.
However, he left open the possibility of forced terminations.
The Breeze reported that the closures and staff cuts will eliminate 150 jobs from the current level of 550 at the three papers.
The Outlook and News-Pilot have suffered circulation and advertising declines in recent years.
“Our marketing studies tell us that the South Bay is a dynamic place to do business, but unfortunately our market has gone through a fundamental change,” Wafer observed.
“In order for us to remain competitive in this environment, it is going to be necessary for us to make some basic changes in the way we do business.”
David Copley said the company is “more committed than ever to remaining an independent journalistic voice in the communities of the South Bay, and we believe we now are strongly positioned to serve the South Bay well into the next century.”
The Copley retrenchment could benefit the Los Angeles Times, particularly in upscale Santa Monica (population about 90,000), which borders on L.A.’s West Side. The Long Beach Press-Telegram, recently acquired by William Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group, also will likely move to increase its reach in neighboring San Pedro.
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