Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Oakland Tribune Editor Banished to Siberia

By Chris Thompson
Tue, Jan 16, 2007 at 3:26 PM

Yesterday, Oakland Tribune editor Mario Dianda assembled his reporters and announced that he was being stripped of his position as head of the newspaper, according to a source inside the newsroom. Today, ANG officials confirmed the news in a memo to staff, declaring that Dianda, who has run the Trib for nearly seven years, is being transferred to run the Pacifica Tribune, a dinky community weekly on the Peninsula.

The memo's authors did their best to be upbeat about the change, claiming that Dianda would be a perfect fit for the weekly in part because "he and his son more than once have body surfed in Pacifica's waters." But one staff person said the news hit the staff like a ton of bricks, leaving everyone with a sense of betrayal and anger.

"Mario has his strengths and weaknesses, but the one thing Mario has is he's fucking dedicated," the staffer said. "Mario has been loyal to this company. He's been here since '93, and this is how they reward loyalty? They ship him off to a weekly newspaper?"

The staffer added that Dianda's demotion just confirms the general impression that ANG officials are shipping the center of their newsgathering operation from Oakland to Contra Costa County. From now on, staff worry, Oakland will merely be a bureau of the CoCo Times. "They care about the Contra Costa Times, and they care about the Mercury News, where rich people are buying ads and spending money," the staffperson said. "This town generates more and more actual news practically than any city we cover. But it's also where poor and minority people live, and they don't care. They're not spending money on ads. ... Everything's being taken away from us. Our editor, our manpower, our building, our central location. It's totally fucking depressing."

Kevin Keane, the vice president of news for ANG, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

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