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San Francisco Chronicle could close

Submitted by on 1, February 25, 2009 – 7:45 amNo Comment

San Francisco Chronicle publisher Hearst Newspapers posted this statement Tuesday that it intends to undertake “critical cost-saving measures” (read: massive job cuts) in an effort to return the financially flagging paper to profitability. If those don’t pan out, they’ll sell or close the 144-year-old paper.

Per the statement, the paper has been losing money since 2001. It lost $50 million last year and is on track to lose more this year. Hearst is also in the process of trying to sell the (also) money-losing Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which it has said it will close if it does not manage to sell it by March.

The statement pitches the paper into the midst of an industry-wide downward spiral that has sucked major papers into bankruptcy proceedings (Chicago, Philadelphia), forced others to cut the number of days a week they land on people’s doorsteps (Detroit, Berkeley) and led to round after round after round of layoffs (MediaNews, which owns nearly every other paper in the Bay Area). Closures of papers in Denver and Tucson are also on the horizon this year.

It’s comforting to know that whatever is left of the Chronicle at the end of all this will be printed on brand-new presses (with industry-leading color production!).

For more on this, check out the Peninsula Press Club blog here, management’s piece on SFGate here, and a piece from Bloomberg (thanks, RK!). The Associated Press has a nice roundup on the situation, too.

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