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San Francisco Chronicle may shut down

A brief mention of me was made in the newspaper last year. From Reuters-

San Francisco may lose its main newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, as owner Hearst Corp cuts a "significant" number of jobs and decides whether to shut or sell the money-losing daily.

The privately held New York-based publisher already is considering shutting a second West Coast paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in the face of a devastating decline in advertising revenue and big losses.

Founded shortly after Gold Rush fever hit California in the mid-19th century, the Chronicle has long been an essential part of daily life for many Bay Area residents, even as it sometimes disappointed or outraged them.

But the Chronicle lost more than $50 million last year and this year's losses to date are worse, Hearst said on its website on Tuesday. It said the paper has lost "major" amounts of money since 2001, a year after Hearst bought the paper.

I don't see how those losses can be sustained. If drastic cuts are made, the product is likely to be vastly inferior and that's not a way to get people to buy your product or sell advertisements in it.

I don't rub my hands with glee as some do in the conservative blogosphere when news of a media outlet having financial difficulties is announced. Less news sources isn't going to improve reporting, but do the reverse. Government corruption is more likely to be missed. Here in Palm Beach County, if it wasn't for the work of the very liberal Palm Beach Post, three corrupt county commissioners may still be profiting from the public office they held. The Post helped to break one of the three, the other two's demise could be chalked up to in part to the Domino effect.

We should mourn the death of a major daily newspaper, not celebrate it. Without papers like the Chronicle the Seattle PI and other newspaper, where are bloggers supposed to get the material they need to do commentary with?


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Comments (33)

It's defintely not good new... (Below threshold)

It's defintely not good news to lose large city newspapers (or even small city newspapers). 95+% of what they do is excellent, necessary work. Unfortunately, the other 5% turns off about 40% of their potential readers and another large segment simply don't read papers. One thing they can do to survive is stop alienating that 40%. Not sure what they can do about the ones that won't buy their product no matter what they do. Maybe they could ask Ford or GM about that. Personally I'd hate to see the papers I read go away, I just want them to get better. Some, however, may just be too rotten to rehabilitate - like the NY Times. You look at stuff like the Blair scandal and see just how bad things are there. The decent writers, the ones doing honest investigative work, can get a job elsewhere and keep doing the work.

As long as the newspapers i... (Below threshold)
Kenny:

As long as the newspapers insist upon reporting their opinion as news, then I will gladly celebrate their demise. The sooner they fail the sooner we can get to the next evolution of news reporting. Hopefully that evolution will actually report the news in an unbiased manner.

And with respect to Falze, if you think 95% of what the Chronicle does is excellent, you haven't read it very often. (or you've drunk waaaayyyyyy too much of the kool-aid).

Why Blair, Falze? What abou... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Why Blair, Falze? What about Judith "I was proved f*cking right!" Miller? They gave dead tree space to Bill Kristol, FFS.

Still, what other broadsheet are you going to pick up for quality reviews of automotive, music, theatre, architectural etc., all in one place?

You don't have to read Maureen Dowd to appreciate their restaurant reviews or medical columns.

"I don't rub my hands with ... (Below threshold)

"I don't rub my hands with glee as some do in the conservative blogosphere when news of a media outlet having financial difficulties is announced. Less news sources isn't going to improve reporting, but do the reverse."

I agree in principle, but the Liberal media don't provide news. They provide Democrat-friendly propaganda. We have plenty of Democrat propaganda.
http://www.rightklik.net/

I agree with Jason. I used ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I agree with Jason. I used to love reading newspapers front to back but then they went and started putting bias in the body of their reporting. There are very few true journalists anymore. Just the facts. These papers did it to themselves. And regardless of what hyper says, I am not happy about it. I hope other papers learn from this. ww

I've been praying for the S... (Below threshold)

I've been praying for the Seattle Post (Lack of)Intelligencer's demise since I moved here in '99. And I was a liberal back then. Too bad it seems most of the editorial board has moved over to the once fairly respectable Seattle Times.

Sigh.

No wonder I read the WSJ every day.

Kenny: the 95% figure refer... (Below threshold)

Kenny: the 95% figure referred to the press in general. some papers are going to be better and others worse. sorry if that wasn't clear.

hypertroll: why Blair? I used the Blair example because it exposed the creaky, potentially corrupt inner workings of the Times as they passed him from editor to editor, despite having a horrible rep internally, simply because he was black and seemingly favored by someone or ones at the paper. that's why I used his example of how the paper is rotten - it exposed broken and dry-rotted internal politics and workings that may run too deep to be fixed without taking drastic measures that I don't think they'll take.

If you've never read the Sa... (Below threshold)

If you've never read the San Francisco Chronicle...you're LUCKY! I live in the Bay Area, and we SHOULD have a "major newspaper".

Sadly, what we DO have is the San Francisco Chronicle...a rag so bad even dead fish refuse to be wrapped in it (CalTech is currently studying this phenomenon).

Good riddance to this utterly worthless "newspaper"...maybe we'll get a decent one in its place!

Good riddance to this ut... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

Good riddance to this utterly worthless "newspaper"...maybe we'll get a decent one in its place!

Yeah! Like the American Spectator!

Bias isn't killing the Chro... (Below threshold)
James H:

Bias isn't killing the Chronicle. Employment contracts (negotiated in fatter times) and Craig's List are killing the paper.

Here's a thought: What if somebody waits for the paper to go under, then buys the name (and not much else) at the bankruptcy sale? That person could then turn around and publish the paper under whatever model he prefers, whether that be as a concerned citizen unconcerned with profits or through a nonprofit of some sort.

Actually, that'd be something interesting to ponder. A lot of newspapers, each with a lot of history behind them, are in the process of going belly-up. If they shut down, somebody could presumably buy all the trademarks, etc., then forge a new chain of online "newspapers."

James H,The proble... (Below threshold)
Rance:

James H,

The problem is that no one has figured out how to make an on-line newspaper profitable. If they had figured that out, they wouldn't be going under.

The revenue models that support small web sites don't scale up to support sites that have the overhead that newspaper do.

Ask Roger Simon about makin... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Ask Roger Simon about making money with web-based media. Ask the clowns at the NRO who use more screen space begging for donations than UNICEF's website.

TheOnion's doing alright, though...

Ask the clowns at the NR... (Below threshold)

Ask the clowns at the NRO who use more screen space begging for donations than UNICEF's website.

I gotta give this props because it's true!

Very funny, hyper! :-)

Perhaps the demise of the C... (Below threshold)
fustian:

Perhaps the demise of the Chronicle will open the door to a more sensible operation.

The SF Chronicle has been w... (Below threshold)

The SF Chronicle has been well known to Bay Area locals as the "Comical" for some time. The quality of the reporting was rarely very good, and the level of bias in the reporting slowly drove readers away.

Its kind of amusing. Liberals don't read newspapers because they have TV to tell them everything they need to think, and few moderates or conservatives enjoy reading communist propoganda, so newspapers like the Comical which has an editorial board populated by leftists, end up killing themselves by driving their only group of potential customers away.

Perhaps the demise of th... (Below threshold)

Perhaps the demise of the Chronicle will open the door to a more sensible operation.

Sorry, fustian, but the Caption Contest isn't until Friday.

Mvargus writes- Its kind... (Below threshold)

Mvargus writes- Its kind of amusing. Liberals don't read newspapers because they have TV to tell them everything they need to think, and few moderates or conservatives enjoy reading communist propoganda,

I think a large number if not a majority on both the left and right, only read publications or blogs that re-inforce the opinions they already hold.

It's well known I'm a registered democrat and I've gotten called names by Michelle Malkin and Daily Kos. Because I think I'm more conservative than most dems, and certainly more liberal than most republicans.

My daily blog reading habits=

Hard right- Hot Air and Michelle Malkin

Thoughtful right- Outside the Beltwy, Below the Beltway, Poliblog, Don Surber

Libertarian- Volokh Conspiracy

Moderate- Ann Althouse

Liberal- The Daily Pulp, South Florida Daily Blog, Balloon Juice

My subcriptions include the National Review, Palm Beach Post, and The New Republic

Past Knucklehead winners of mine- Bush and Obama, Mark Steyn and Maureen Dowd, Denny Hastert and Nancy Pelosi

I for one like to read people with a viewpoint that differs from own. Put it this way- my viewpoints can be subject to change and aren't predictable from a ideology standpoint.

Bill(Inconsistenly right and wrong since 2005)

Rance:The... (Below threshold)
James H:

Rance:

The problem is that no one has figured out how to make an on-line newspaper profitable. If they had figured that out, they wouldn't be going under.

The revenue models that support small web sites don't scale up to support sites that have the overhead that newspaper do.

Nobody's made an online newspaper profitable yet, but that shouldn't stop entrepreneurs from trying. If somebody's going to try, though, taking an old newspaper's discarded nameplate (and whatever fraction of brand equity remains) might be the way to go.

I only rely on Wizbang for ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

I only rely on Wizbang for news, so this does not concern me.

Post #17Sorry Bill... (Below threshold)
MichaelC:

Post #17

Sorry Bill, but I've read you long enough now to have to inform you that yes, you are just a tad predictable. And by the way, it's always rather bothered me that too many of your "knuckleheads" are actually felonious, evil, no good, scum sucking, bottom feeding sons-a-bitches not properly identified by such a gentle term as "knucklehead.


You stated:

.................................................

"I think a large number if not a majority on both the left and right, only read publications or blogs that reinforce the opinions they already hold."

.............................................


You say that like it's a bad thing. Personally, I tend to hang out with people that I like, rarely finding enough gratification for wasting life with those that I don't. I suppose it will then be pointed out that reading the product of those for whom you have no special affinity is more important than just hanging out with them, but still I think it is simply human nature to spend our valuable moments of life with ones we care for and that we gain so much more from that relationship than we do from the other.

It is my view that life in general has been all too willing to make me aware of hatred, stupidity, prejudice, et cetera, without me making an extra effort to find more.

It is difficult for me to a... (Below threshold)
MichaelC:

It is difficult for me to accept the death of a newspaper. For whatever reason I have always had a rather deep feeling for the process of news-printing history at least insofar as a realization of the impact of Gutenberg printing and the onset of multiple copies of whatever commentary developed a readership from that point on. One need go only a short distance back in time to be able to observe that Journalism, with a capital "J", was once a much respected occupation.

Woodward and Bernstein changed all that. It is not so much that news organs were always great paragons of unbiased information dissemination but in America at least, with its 1st Amendment to the historic and utterly inspired Constitution which established an inviolable relationship between Citizen and Government, a trustworthy watchdog once stood between the country's people and its government.

With the explosive revelations that the Watergate scandal brought to the public by way of Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein in the early 1970's, an utterly new meme entered the world of Journalism. Men and women, once simply dedicated to the gathering of information and the formulating of accounts that spoke to events on local, national, and international levels, discovered that they could actually "participate" in (and get away with it) the events they were covering. Not only that, an individual could even go so far as to depose a King. Heady stuff there.

Ever since that time, concomitant with the rise of lefty bias in education, would be journalists have spent too much time in search of the "big score" of destroying authority figures, and much less time with the "boring" accumulation of facts from which they used to render news reports that could be read with an easy acceptance by a public confident that the facts were indeed factual. As more and more people lost that sense, newspapers began to see readership decline, which "fact" caused a parallel decline in advertising, the lifeblood of the newspaper world.

The rest is history with which most of us are all too familiar. With regard to media, agendized news has supplanted actual unbiased news in what arguably has become a majority of outlets in the U.S. The general public is only now slowly becoming aware of just how far from home the once respected press has strayed. Now, we can see on every side, major papers on the brink of disaster as they refuse to print without agenda, thereby losing the attention of those who once held them in reasonable esteem.

And here we are now in the 21st century exploring the new medium of the world wide web, conversing and communicating, analyzing and adapting ourselves to this new forum for the Voice of the People. It remains to be seen whether traditional journalism can ever fully acknowledge and work with digital journalism, but if they won't both entities will suffer, though in my humble opinion, one will die while the other survives in a form and use which now can only be speculated upon.

Sorry Bill but thats how th... (Below threshold)
Rich K:

Sorry Bill but thats how this capitalism thingy works. It doesnt just apply to widget makers,It applies to any business venture. If newspapres cant hold a market then some new guy might make a go of it in their place. Look at what News Corp did with many of their publications. And frankly, this new internet thingy combined with local news sources can also fill that gap you claim will be forged in the broad picture of info dissemination.

Woodward and Bernstein did ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Woodward and Bernstein did change a lot about journalism, but good journalism wasn't just about "accumulating" facts. It was also about uncovering facts and holding officials' feet to the fire, even in the pre-Watergate days.

My own two cents worth -- good Journalism (note the capital J) is partly investigation, partly simple fact reporting, and partly storytelling. All three have their place. The trick is figuring out which is appropriate.

For an elated moment I read... (Below threshold)
epador:

For an elated moment I read the headline as SF shutting down. Wishful thinking.

Peter F.--I take it they fa... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Peter F.--I take it they failed to entice you to accompany Jay Nordlinger, KJ Lopez, VD Hanson, and the rest of the Kool Korner Kidz on a Mediterranean cruise for the low, low price of $7,500 (includes 2 year subscription to National Review!!!!)?

:)

I mourn the death of great ... (Below threshold)
Adjoran:

I mourn the death of great newspapers, but most of my tears were shed long ago. What we are witnessing now is the final throes of the zombies which once were great newspapers.

Take the NYT for example: When Abe Rosenthal ran the paper, it was the journal of record for the western world. Rosenthal was a JFK liberal (anti-communist and pro-Israel, unlike today's Left), and the editorial page reflected that sensibility. BUT if you read it in the news columns of the Times, you could take it to the bank. The rare errors were acknowledged immediately and without excuse. A great newspaper, without doubt.

From the day the Sulzberger and Ochs families (who own a controlling interest) decided that their property ought be run by one of their own, in the person of "Pinch," it began a downward spiral which, like the Maelstrom of legend, only intensified and was impossible to escape - at least without admitting the predicate error, which pride or loyalty prevented them from doing, in time or at all.

Interestingly enough, there are a couple hundred members of the two families whose principal incomes are the dividends their special stock class receives from the Times. Despite the downward trends and mounting losses, good ol' Pinch had insisted those dividends continue - right up until last year, when the value of the company stock was less than the value of their buildings and equipment.

Of course the financial misfortunes of newspapers had only marginally to do with the decline in standards - as noted above, labor contracts and competition (from online and other advertising and information outlets) played the biggest role for nearly all the dying entities - not to mention the industry is going the way of the buggy whip.

It is sad to see any newspaper close its doors, but not nearly so sad as it would have been if they had even been making an effort to do the job right at the end.

hyperbolist is a moron for ... (Below threshold)
syn:

hyperbolist is a moron for thinking that NRO is a newspaper.


The newspaper industry is like any other business and should not need protectionism to thrive.

Those who are against competition are missing an important point, bad businesses die because they produce a lousy product and propping up failure is a worthless endeavor.

If a newspaper is lousy product then it should die so that the better newspapers can rise.


Newspapers can thrive if they get rid of crappy journalists and idiotic editors who believe their job is about changing the world rather than reporting the facts.


Do not fear competition, it is the most important tool in the pursuit of excellence.

Protecting failure is what fearful, lazy people use to excuse their miserable lives.

I think a large number i... (Below threshold)

I think a large number if not a majority on both the left and right, only read publications or blogs that re-inforce the opinions they already hold.

I think that's demonstrably untrue for the simple reason that most newspapers, certainly those in blue, bluish, or purple states, lean left or very left or incredibly left. Therefore if you subscribe to a daily paper, which many people still do, and are a conservative, you're reading outside your box. Any conservatives in the DC area that get the Post, NYC area that get the times, or Boston metro readers that get the Globe (using examples I'm familiar with) are reading outside their box. Watch any news on TV except FoxNews? You're getting pretty much unfiltered liberalism. Katie Couric isn't any less liberal if you watch her in Salt Lake City than if you watch her in San Francisco. How many people read Time? Newsweek? Liberal. Liberal. I'm just guessing, but I really don't think that the swathe of people that say they get their news from Jon Stewart are majority conservative - or even significant percentage conservative.

That's the inherent difference between liberal and conseravative media consumers. It's why conservatives can call into Rush's show and discuss what they saw on the news or what's showing up in the papers - they don't agree with it, but they've read it and are familiar with it. Your example, I firmly believe the evidence proves this point, actually only applies to liberals. They are the ones that only consume liberal media. They routinely lie about Rush Limbaugh, what he said, what he talks about, because they do not listen to his show. They just repeat the myths their papers tell about him. A classic example is the drum beat of criticism that "he's a racist" and "spouts racism on the radio". Anyone, black or white, liberal or conservative or neither, that actually listens to the show knows that hogwash (unless he's started doing it in the past few years, since I don't listen to him, but that seems pretty unlikely). I also like the way people that write into newspapers (and many that write FOR newspapers) still go around calling him "fat" or "bloated". Despite the fact that he's in magazines, on TV occasionally, and has stories in the newspapers, none of these liberals seem to have any idea that he's not fat anymore and hasn't been for years. The editor of one of our papers admitted the other day that he couldn't tell two popular conservative talk show hosts apart if he heard them...yet he has no trouble attacking what he thinks their shows are about in his weekly columns. It's why Air America has nothing of substance to talk about - you can't have a whole series of radio shows devoted to attacking conservatives if you have no idea what they're actually doing or talking about. Hannity or Limbaugh can easily spend 3 hours talking about what was in the Post and Times and on a morning show because their listeners have read those and seen that. How do you have listeners call in and discuss something that they haven't experieneced for themselves? You can't. Not successfully.

Now I've certainly broad-brushed here, but when you're talking about entire markets or entire 'classes' of people, you're talking majorities. I couldn't subscribe to a local conservative daily if I wanted to. Doesn't exist.

Liberal newspapers need to ... (Below threshold)
TOhio:

Liberal newspapers need to go under. I hope that the demise of the SF Chronicle is the first of many more liberal city papers to go out of business.

Why? Because they aren't honest. They pretend to be even-handed when they aren't. If they said that they were liberal up front, I wouldn't have a problem with them, but they don't. They have hidden political agendas under the guise of being an objective news source. From where I come from this is called "lying" about who you really are.

I hope that The New York Times and Washington Post go out of business, too. We don't need the propaganda machines.

And, by the way, I believe that this will force better reporting in the long run. Papers that want to survive will realize that they need to staff themselves with reporters with different viewpoints in order to come up with a quality product that appeals to a broader audience.

But how is it possible that... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

But how is it possible that union contracts could damage a left-wing publication? This overpriced fishwrap celebrates unions! Ain't irony ironic?

Like it or not... the print... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Like it or not... the print news industry model has become an old technology. The product (information) has a faster, more cost efficient method of delivery available.

Essentially, print news has become a niche market rather than a mainstream one. Most papers have failed to realize this and have insisted on trying to pound that square 'mass market' product into the smaller, round 'niche market' hole... and it doesn't work.

Of course, our rulers seems to like throwing cash a failing business models so perhaps the Chronicle should ask for some 'bail out' money.

All the parrots,canaries,AN... (Below threshold)
Flu-Bird:

All the parrots,canaries,AND OTHER PET BIRDS IN CALIFORNA WILL BE HAPPY BECUASE THEY WILL NO LONGER HAVE THIS WRETCHED PAPER AS TOILET PAPER

syn--fuck the heck are you ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

syn--fuck the heck are you talking about? NRO is a source of "information" that would be totally insolvent if they weren't constantly begging for money from morons willing to give it to them. Thus, it's relevant to the topic, despite not being print media. Idiot.




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