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Daily Pilot extending coverage to Irvine

Newspaper executives plan for a page of Irvine coverage on Sunday editions.

September 11, 2010|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

The Daily Pilot, a century-old newspaper that covers Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, will expand into Irvine on Sept. 19, the newspaper announced Saturday.

Irvine news will initially be published daily on the Pilot's website and in print only on Sundays. The Pilot, which is a Los Angeles Times Community News (TCN) product, will continue to be distributed in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach Tuesdays through Sundays.

Times subscribers in Irvine will receive the Daily Pilot along with the Sunday edition. The Times has about 14,000 subscribers in Irvine.

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The Pilot, at least at first, will not be included with copies of The Times sold in racks or in stores.

"There was a news opportunity where we felt we could do some coverage," said Scott Pompe, general manager and senior vice president of advertising for the Los Angeles Times and TCN. "We definitely want to continue to expand organically into areas we can serve the community, as well as through financial viability."

Executives and managers from TCN and The Times discussed the logistics of covering Irvine for months and carefully analyzed the market before moving forward, said John Canalis, editor of the Daily Pilot and TCN's other products in Orange County.

A strong base of Times subscribers and an awareness of the city — Irvine borders Newport Beach and the Pilot has long covered UC Irvine — made expansion the next logical next step, he said.

"There is an interdependency among Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine, so it would follow that readers in each place would be interested in each of the cities," Canalis said. "Many of our readers in Newport-Mesa work in Irvine, and many Irvine residents work in Newport-Mesa. Some of our sports teams already play each other. Irvine is the missing piece of the puzzle in our coverage area."

Irvine articles and images will be woven into the paper's format. There will not be a dedicated Irvine edition or section.

In addition, the paper, which hopes to add about a page of news on Sundays, does not have any plans to reduce its coverage of Newport Beach or Costa Mesa.

"This expansion by no means is going to affect our commitment level to Costa Mesa or Newport Beach," Pompe said. "Hopefully, we can continue to be the gold standard and serve them."

Sarah Peters, a recently hired general assignment reporter, will cover Irvine City Hall. Pilot beat reporters for sports, public safety, education and special projects will cover their respective beats in the city, as will freelancers.

"In an era where newspapers are reducing their footprint, it's nice to get an opportunity to grow, particularly into such an interesting, dynamic and diverse community like Irvine," Canalis said.

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