Local news coverage in Long Beach seemed close to extinction three months ago.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram – the city’s flagship newspaper – was down to one staff reporter in May, and its chief competitor – the online only Long Beach Post – had four editorial staff members.
Both publications have since significantly increased their editorial staff since then, beefing up the media coverage of Los Angeles County’s second largest city, which has a population of approximately 470,000, according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau count.
John Molina, the scion of a fortune built from Long Beach-based Molina Healthcare Inc., acquired the Post in June through his one-year-old company, Pacific6 Enterprises, for an undisclosed sum.
Molina immediately named David Sommers, a former television news producer for NBC affiliates, as publisher of the Post. The publication now has 14 employees, Sommers said last week, “with 12 of them in the newsroom,” including newly arrived reporters to cover City Hall and education.
Sommers added that the publication “launched a sports section last week helmed by two reporters who were laid off by the Press-Telegram earlier this year,” and plans to hire two more staffers in the newsroom.
The Molina purchase and recent hiring spree at the Post come after the voluntary departure in May of three members of the editorial staff of the Press-Telegram, each of whom resurfaced at the Post. The move reverberated throughout Southern California newsrooms, as it left the city’s paper of record with a single dedicated reporter for local news.
The Press-Telegram is part of the Southern California News group, a consortium of eleven daily newspapers owned by Denver-based Digital First Media Inc. There have been continual layoffs at Southern California News Group papers the last couple of years, prompting speculation that the 121-year-old Press-Telegram’s days might be numbered.
But the Press-Telegram vacancies created in May have been filled, said Southern California News Group spokeswoman Caroline Wong.
The newspaper now has reporters to cover schools and development, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, crime and public safety, as well as the surfing and beach culture beat. Additionally, the publication has put a public editor and community liaison, plus the position of news clerk on its masthead.
Chris Haire, the publication’s lone reporter in May, is now listed as a senior reporter.
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