Daily News to shutter borough bureaus

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The Daily News. (POLITICO Media)
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In New York's tabloid war, the Daily News has generally been the combatant with an army on the ground in the outer boroughs, while the New York Post has consolidated power around its Manhattan-centric base.

That's about to change: There are plans at the News to close down the Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens bureaus in the coming weeks, sources with knowledge of the matter told Capital, in a move that one insider described as the "end of an era."

The good news: The remaining 10 or so reporters and editors still devoted to the boroughs will not be let go, but rather redeployed to other areas of the organization, like the web team, city desk or courthouses, the sources said. For instance, the News will now have a couple reporters combing through lawsuits full-time in Queens and the Bronx.

The various borough sections that run in different geographical editions of the paper will be folded into the main section and the total number of stories emanating from the boroughs will presumably diminish, the sources said. But impacted employees have been told the News will continue to cover the outer boroughs, where it has a loyal readership—just not with physical headquarters or beat reporters devoted to pounding the pavement in those areas.

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Reached for comment, a News spokeswoman provided a statement from managing editor for news Robert Moore.

"By reassigning our district team, we will be strengthening our opportunities to cover even more areas, particularly online," said Moore. "The Daily News is still wholeheartedly committed to covering borough news, and that will continue both in the paper and digitally."

The decision would appear to be a financial one at least in part, as the News continues to cut costs while pumping more resources into an expanded digital operation that has been boosting traffic—around 26 million unique visitors in December, according to Comscore—while courting national readers and advertisers. The borough staffs had already been downsized in a round of layoffs the News weathered in May 2013. (Former Brooklyn borough chief JoAnne Wasserman is now an editor at Capital.) And the paper will save money on the office real estate it had maintained in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

As Capital reported in October, management has engaged in discussions about a plan for the News to eventually go digital-only, and there was rampant speculation around the holidays that such a decision would be announced at the start of the new year. (That did not happen.)

The News also has reorganized its digital leadership in recent months, including the appointment of two Hearst Digital alums on the business side.