Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why Isn't the Chronicle Making Money?

I don't know.

I read that most dailies are making money but just not as much as they once did, which makes them bad investments -- comparatively. But the San Francisco Chronicle seems to be a basket case when other newspapers have merely slowed to a walk.

The Chron is apparently about to cut one out of four newsroom jobs. Here's a link to a blog comment on that decision from a former Chron city editor -- we overlapped; I did features; we never talked -- who came from back East in the 80s and put fire stories in the paper and before long he went away. He explains why deep staff cuts at the paper won't make it profitable. But he doesn't explain why the Chronicle is in such a deep *deep* hole in the first place, why it can't wring some small profit out of a circulation of nearly 400,000 in a market that seems to teem with high-end goods and services that advertise, advertise, advertise.

Struggling, yes. I understand how declining circulation and the encroachment of the Internet are battering newspapers. But how can the Chron be losing $2 million a week?

Of course, when I was at the Chronicle the newsroom scuttlebutt was that the Chronicle/Examiner JOA was losing money, but that those losses resulted from the fact the Chron had to split revenue with the Ex, even though the Ex had a circulation less than 25 percent of ours. (But they did do the Sunday paper, though that still didn't even things out.)

Blame was also placed on the mad Theriot descendants who owned the Chronicle and on the fact the Newspaper Agency -- which ran all the non-editorial newspaper operations for the two papers, a degree of cooperation the JOA allowed -- became a kind of independent rogue state because the Chron and Ex couldn't agree.

BUT what mistakes made back in those days continue to cause such deep problems? I'll ask around and get back to you.

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