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Round-up: Recent changes in local news outlets

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In a world where nearly everyone has a smartphone or an iPod and news flashes are delivered in 140 characters or less, the landscape of news media is rapidly changing. Here is a quick roundup of recent changes in the local news outlets:

Sacramento News & Review: Looking for a new editor

The Sacramento News & Review has been a print publication since 1989, and Melinda Welsh has been the editor for most of that time. About a week ago, she decided to step down, and now the News & Review is conducting a nationwide search for her replacement.

“I love the job, it’s the coolest job,” Welsh said Friday. “But it’s been long enough. Eighteen years as an editor? It’s time to do something different.”

Welsh said the nationwide search began as soon as she announced her plans to leave, and ads for the position have been appearing in local outlets and across the nation.

Welsh said, so far, there have been some responses to the ads, but the hiring office at News & Review is not yet to the point of conducting interviews.

“We’re targeting other alt(ernative) weeklies and looking for someone with experience in what we do,” Welsh said.

Although the search for an editor is open nationwide, Welsh said the News & Review would prefer someone with ties to Sacramento – especially since the paper focuses on local stories.

Welsh said the News & Review has gone through a number of changes over the years – but that’s the nature of media.

“It’s a time of change,” Welsh said. “I don’t think we’re behind the eight ball. The News and Review is thinner than it’s been, but our readership has increased. It’s just the ever-changing landscape of media.”

Capitol Weekly: Leaving print behind, going to online-only

Jan. 12 saw the print edition of Capitol Weekly – a newspaper devoted solely to politics and governance in Sacramento – delivered to offices in the state Capitol for the last time.

According to the Jan. 17 announcement in Capitol Weekly, the newspaper suspended its print edition in favor of an online-only presence.

Calling it “an essential element of the reorganization of our company,” Editor John Howard said in the announcement that the move was prompted by “challenging economic times coupled with the need for new technologies” to expand the company’s capabilities.

The switch to online-only came with employee layoffs at the newspaper – something
Lilly Fuentes-Joy, former photo editor with Capitol Weekly, said many people hoped would never happen.

“Financially the paper was going through hard times,” Fuentes-Joy said Friday, “but we all thought the paper would pull through.”

Fuentes-Joy said about 10 people were let go from the paper when it halted its print edition.

Howard said in the announcement that “the economy, changing readership habits and increasing demand for speed and access” spurred the change, and the company wants to focus on how to meet the needs of its readers and advertisers.

“I’ve seen Capitol Weekly go through so many changes,” Fuentes-Joy said Friday, “but not keep up with the changing times.”

The social media aspect of journalism has been key to the struggles of Capitol Weekly, Fuentes-Joy said.

“People still like print media,” she said, “but they want quick fixes – immediate news – but there’s no real depth.”

Capitol Weekly will continue to produce a conference series, special events and its television show, “Politics On Tap,” according to Capitol Weekly Publisher Arnold York.

Capital Public Radio: Moving jazz to sister station, focusing on news

Jazz and music lovers will no longer find their favorite music on KXJZ 90.9, because Capital Public Radio is making some changes to its format.

“Over the last several years, our research has shown a growing demand for news information,” Capital Public Radio General Manager Rick Eytcheson said Friday.

“The way people consume music has been evolving, and that rate of change is accelerating. People have so many options, and a lot of radio stations are struggling,” Eytcheson said.

In response to listeners’ requests and research that the organization did, Eytcheson said, the station moved its popular "Excellence In Jazz" program and several other music programs from KXJZ 90.9 to its sister station at 88.9 KXPR to allow more airtime at 90.9 for news and information programming.

“The news side continues to grow on public radio,” Eytcheson said, “and we’ve seen robust ratings growth. We want to build on that.”

Eytcheson said about two years ago, the station started to stream jazz music online, and managers were pleasantly surprised to see the number of people tuning in. Soon, the station began to simultaneously stream classical music to reach a larger audience.

With the newest format changes, Eytcheson said, he hopes no one loses out: Fans of news and information will get full-time programming on one station, and music lovers will get full-time programming on another station.

“Jazz isn’t going away,” Eytcheson said. “It’s just moving down the dial.”

In addition to the format changes, Eytcheson said, the news station will add new shows including, “The Splendid Table,” “Q” from Canadian Broadcasting Company, “Marketplace Money” and others.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

Editorial Note: Spelling corrections were made to this article after it was posted.

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