It has been no secret that the San Francisco Chronicle has been bleeding for many years. People at rival paper San Jose Mercury News, where I worked for almost 5 years, wondered how the Chron could keep hiring as its revenues… and readership dropped. The sense for the folks working at the S.F. paper was that the “mothership” would always provide. Well, that’s no longer the case.
Hearst, the Chronicle’s parent company since 2000, lost more than $50 million last year and according to a statement on their website, this year’s losses to date are worse. So as a first step, they announced “critical cost-saving measures including a significant reduction in the number of its unionized and nonunion employees.” If those savings “cannot be accomplished within weeks, the Company will be forced to sell or close the newspaper.”
The Chronicle is currently the 12th-largest in the United States, with a news staff of 275.