UPDATE 1-Media General streamlines editing to slash costs

Wed Apr 7, 2010 7:01pm EDT

* Metro desk editing to be consolidated

* Hopes to boost newsroom reporting

LOS ANGELES, April 7 (Reuters) - Media General Inc (MEG.N) will consolidate editing and design operations for three of its largest newspapers, hoping to slash costs as advertising revenue continues to slide for print media.

The publisher plans to combine its copy editing and page design teams for three newspapers -- the Tampa Tribune, Richmond-Times Dispatch and Winston-Salem Journal -- into two teams by the third quarter.

Media General and rivals such as the New York Times (NYT.N) has suffered sharp declines in revenue as advertisers follow readers online. Still, the company, which is profitable but reported a 14 percent slide in fourth-quarter revenue, foresees a mid-single digit increase in revenue in 2010. [ID:nN28228018]

It has bolstered its bottom line through aggressive cost cuts. On Wednesday, Media General -- which also owns television stations -- said in a statement it hoped to save $1 million annually from the desk consolidation, beginning 2011.

"Our consolidated editing and design operations allow our newsrooms to focus on strong local news reporting. Stories will be edited once rather than multiple times, and we can take advantage of economies of scale and centralization of top talent," said Donna Reed, vice president of content.

The resultant two desks will be based in Richmond, Virginia -- the company's home base -- and Tampa, Florida.

Shares of the publisher held steady in extended trading after closing unchanged at $8.48 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Richard Chang)

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