Originally published May 28, 2013 at 4:26 p.m., updated May 28, 2013 at 6:31 p.m.
UPDATE: The U-T has released an official statement on Tuesday's layoffs and restructuring:
"The U-T is finalizing its transition following the North County Times acquisition. The U-T has replaced the U-T Californian section of the newspaper in Southwest Riverside with the North County section of the U-T San Diego. The U-T intends to continue serving its Southwest Riverside subscribers with the high-quality, award-winning journalism associated with the U-T San Diego brand."
The U-T will maintain an office in Temecula, said George Bonaros, marketing director for U-T San Diego.
The U-T San Diego laid off several journalists and members of its sales team Tuesday as part of the "process of finalizing its transition following the North County Times acquisition," according to an internal memo shared with inewsource.
The memo also notes that "the U-T will continue to attempt to expand its business model through the acquisition of major metro newspapers across the country."
Sources at the paper said the Temecula office, which housed The Californian, has been gutted entirely, leaving nearly 10 — at least five journalists and three sales team members — from that office without jobs. Twitter buzzed for most of the day Tuesday about additional layoffs of former North County Times journalists and some page designers who made the transition to the U-T's flagship paper when the two merged last year.
In a memo to staff members, U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch, noted that "significant decline" of the North County Times and The Californian prompted the paper's ownership to re-haul the brands of both.
"As a result, you will notice some changes in tomorrow's newspaper that reflect our ongoing evolution to best meet the needs of our readers and advertisers," the memo says. "While these decisions are difficult, they are necessary to ensure we operate our business with an optimum allocation of resources and maintain the long-term health of our company."
A former sales person who was laid off two weeks ago and wishes to remain anonymous, said she was told the changes at the paper were mostly budget-related.
Until Tuesday, the North County Times and The Californian were still being published as their own brands. The North County Times was rolled into the main U-T paper but kept its name.
U-T San Diego publisher and owner Doug Manchester has been considered by media experts as one of a few noteworthy figures looking to buy the Tribune Company, which recently emerged from bankruptcy. The company publishes the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune and several other papers.
Manchester made a bid for the Orange County Register last year but was outbid by Aaron Kushner, who is also on the short-list of possible buyers for the Tribune Company. Both men have recently declined to make definitive statements about a possible purchase of the company. The Koch brothers are also rumored to be considering a bid for Tribune Company.