Thursday, May 31, 2007

Talking Back to Adonis

Adonis is, of course, correct. When you talk about the Chron's problems, you must start with a drop in circulation of more than 100,000 that necessitates a drop in ad rates -- duh! as the older siblings of my students would say -- as well as the exodus of classified ads to the Internet, which has little to do with decreased circulation and probably caused a reduction of revenues from that particular source of far more than 20 percent.

What I don't know is the degree to which other newspapers with shrinking circulations have becoming losing propositions to the degree the Chron has.

I'm looking for that extra level of error or incompetence or just bad luck that currently puts the Chronicle at such a big disadvantage. I know the reporters and editors aren't so richly rewarded they should weigh the enterprise down. Perhaps, I should say I think that's true. I don't believe the Chron is that overstaffed. Given the reductions since Hearst took over the Chron, I assume that all the newsroom fat has been trimmed.

Something else to find out.

But perhaps fat salaries for execs or fancy accounting tricks are factors, too. Expenses from distant activities and corners of an organization can sometimes be loaded onto an enterprise for tax purposes or to aid in union negotiations When it comes to that, did unions other than the Guild exact ruinous salaries and benefits? I assuming something was wrong apparently before the Chronicle circulation started to drop.

What? Adonis suggests the drabness of the product is a factor, and I would like to think that is true because whatever else I was as a journalist, I wasn't drab. But even if the gradual massification of the Chron explains why the circulation was stagnant for so long, only in the last several years has that circulation taken the big hit that has driven down ad revenues.

I'm thinking out loud. I'll see if I can find out more.

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