Identity Crisis: Oakland Has No Daily News Presence

The Oakland Tribune will soon be transformed into The East Bay Tribune.  According to the Bay Area News Group (BANG), our city paper and several other Alameda County dailies will get integrated into one masthead.  The planned November change tries to please all, but may please few.

This newly-named paper doesn’t actually cover the whole East Bay.  More importantly, it wipes out Oakland’s unique presence in the daily news cycle.  In 2010, Oakland ranked as the 47th largest U.S. city with nearly 391,000 residents.  Shouldn’t there be some identification of our metropolis?

It’s all dollars and sense.

Sure, newspaper economics have changed for good.  As circulation and ad revenues continue to decrease, it’s not surprising that print editions are merged and staffs are reduced.  Marketing and branding decisions impact results too, and we don’t understand why leaving all that Oakland awareness and goodwill makes economic sense.  (BANG executives likely have their rationale.)

In the digital era, we do know that it’s important to coordinate off-line and online identity.  You attract traffic by focusing on your targeted readers, geography and beat expertise.  Since the Tribune gets re-directed to Inside Bay Area, Oakland has been downplayed for a while:

If you clicked, then you didn’t see any Tribune links.  And the “Oakland” results could improve if the brand lives, the domain (online address) changes, and archives are available to index.  Online audiences may not save the print business, but it’s possible to attract more traffic and related online revenues.

Like all news junkies, we are saddened by our reduced local coverage.  Plenty of people want to know what’s happening in Oakland versus the half-East Bay.  Our neighbor cities can still get covered as editions.  In our humble opinion, removing Oakland’s news identity doesn’t seem to pass marketing or financial muster.

Update:  On October 27th, the Bay Area News Group (BANG) announced their decision to keep publishing The Oakland Tribune.  Good move.

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