MediaNews Group's decision to merge its 12 Bay Area newspapers into three has led to speculation that the company could do something similar with its nine Southern California papers, collectively known as the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.
I can only speculate myself, but I see the potential for structural mimicry if MediaNews succeeds in its stalled bid to buy the Orange County Register.
With the Register, LANG would look more like the Bay Area News Group did before yesterday's merger, with the Register playing the role of the Mercury News: a large paper with a statewide brand in a relatively affluent county that could serve as an editorial center of gravity for a larger region. The LANG papers already exist as three clusters of three, a structure that could be collapsed into two or three newspapers.
However, MediaNews would have to have a reason to further consolidate LANG. One obvious reason would be a desire to cut staff to lower costs - the BANG merger led to 120 layoffs. I might be wrong, but I think LANG was already leaner than BANG in terms of staff and so might not be able to stand such a huge "streamlining." (Indeed, the Register itself might be more vulnerable if cuts are a priority.)
Another reason could be that MediaNews actually believes the BANG model is more efficient and effective: Fewer brand names, a more uniform editorial approach, better positioning to do mobile, etc.
One reason MediaNews might leave LANG alone, even after a Register deal, would be to give it time to evaluate the Bay Area merger to see what works and what doesn't. Undoubtedly, there will be backlash from readers and circulation will probably drop (though the consolidation will mask some of this). But this feels like a post-print production plan and so BANG might be the guinea pig that gets isolated and studied until it recovers - or doesn't.