The Visalia Times-Delta will now be managed by the Executive Editor of the Redding Record Searchlight, the newspaper announced earlier this month.
The new editor, Silas Lyons, will take a “regional editing” role for North Central California.
The new announcement means that Lyons, a Redding resident, will oversee operations at the Visalia Times-Delta, Salinas Californian and Redding Record Searchlight.
Lyons’ new role will include the duties of Executive Editor Pete Wevurski, who was laid-off from his positions at the Visalia Times-Delta and the Salinas Californian.
This announcement comes after those papers announced that their print editions would no longer be concerning themselves with breaking news. The two newspapers have been linked since 1948, when both were bought by Speidel Newspapers. Gannett then bought Speidel Newspapers in 1977.
Wevurski had previously served as executive editor of both newsrooms, starting as the interim editor in June, 2014, before his position was made final in February of 2015.
“The new North Central team, under Lyons, links newsrooms in those regions with The Desert Sun in Palm Springs and the Ventura County Star, based in Camarillo, as the USA TODAY Network in California,” the announcement states.
A source close to the Visalia Times-Delta said that Wevurski was well liked in the newsroom; the decision to consolidate was a financial decision made by Gannett, the owner of the multiple newspapers, rather than instead of any performance issue.
Paula Goudreau, president of The Salinas Californian and Visalia Times-Delta, was recently named president of the Redding Record Searchlight, taking on a regional role along with Lyons for North Central California.
According to the Record Searchlight, “Goudreau and her two sons, Samson, 18, and Jackson, 16, live in Stockton. She will continue to use Stockton as her home base and travel to the three communities she serves.”
The Times-Delta has been slowly losing local control over its own coverage because of its ownership by Gannett, a publishing behemoth.
The publishing company owns the Times-Delta, the Californian, and the Record Searchlight — in addition to other newspapers, such as the Des Moines Register, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Arizona Republic, the national newspaper USA Today, and 205 publications across the United Kingdom through a UK subsidiary.
Consolidating newsrooms and cutting staff has been a trend for Gannett.
Before Lyons’ appointment, the Times-Delta shared its editor, Wevurski, and publisher, Paula Goudreau, with the Salinas Californian. Actual layout of the paper is performed remotely at a Gannett “Design Studio” in Phoenix, Arizona.
Wevurski shuttled between Salinas and Visalia; Goudreau only spends a few days a month in Visalia.
Gannett’s latest round of layoffs didn’t end in Visalia.
Jim Romenesko, a media journalist, forwarded a report that there were layoffs at 37 Gannett properties.
That includes the Las Cruces (N.M.) Sun-News, where three journalists were laid off and the newspaper’s top editor resigned, and the El Paso Times, where four were laid off, according to NMPolitics.net.
Journalists from NOW Media Group, owned by Gannett and operating in Wisconsin, tweeted about layoffs from the group — including their own.
Big business sucks. After 48 years at the LCR, the Gannett Company just terminated me. Effective immediately.
— Chuck Delsman (@ChuckDelsman) May 3, 2017
Also let go were @StevenTietz @JohnRechNOW @taponath The sports department was destroyed. @StevenTietz new more then any any about preps.
— Peter Zuzga (@PeterZuzga) May 3, 2017
This is what happens when your home town newspaper is owned by a conglomerate in VA.
— Peter Zuzga (@PeterZuzga) May 4, 2017
Matt DeRienzo, the executive director of an association for local, online publishers, wrote that Gannett’s layoffs had an outsized impact in smaller markets — and included a screenshot of an internal company email announcing that at Gannett’s Wisconsin newspapers, lobbies will no longer be open to the public, transitioning customers to a “self-service experience.”
“Already-lean small town newsrooms were hit the hardest — papers such as the Times-Herald in Port Huron, Michigan, the Reporter-News in Abilene, Texas, the Daily Record in York, Pennsylvania, and the Sun-News in Las Cruces, New Mexico,” DeRienzo wrote.
“Gannett won’t be coming back into these towns to restore local journalism jobs. But we have all of these talented reporters, editors and photographers who care deeply about their communities. Support them in efforts at grassroots journalism entrepreneurship. They hold the best hope for replacing these continual cuts to local journalism.”
What does the future hold?
Gannett currently owns five additional newspapers in California besides the Visalia Times-Delta and Californian. They are The Redding Record Searchlight, The Desert Sun, Tulare Advance-Register and the Ventura County Star.
The Ventura County Star, based out of Camarillo, is a small enterprise whose editor saw the writing on the wall when Gannett bought the paper last year.
He retired last April.
With a staff of over 40 employees, the mothership of the USA network in California is the Desert Sun based in Palm Desert. Goudreua and Lyons both report directly to the Desert Sun Executive Editor Greg Burton.
The next logical step for Gannett would be to consolidate newsrooms of all the California papers into one entity under the Desert Sun’s umbrella.