Chron: It’s cut staff or fold

Hearst Corp. threatens to sell or close the S.F. paper if unions don’t agree to cuts

The recessionary fit is hitting the shan at the venerable San Francisco Chronicle, where mounting losses forced the parent Hearst Corp. to announce Tuesday (Feb. 24) that it would either make “significant” cuts to both union and nonunion staff or try to sell the paper. If no buyer comes forward, it will be closed.

Hearst said the Chronicle lost $50 million in 2008 and is on a pace to lose more this year. Wednesday’s issue of the paper quoted Frank J. Vega, its chairman and publisher: “It’s just a fact of life that we need to live within our means as a newspaper—and we have not for years.”

The Chronicle was founded in 1865 and has long been the largest newspaper in the Bay Area. It is far from alone in facing hard times. The other major papers in the area, including the Contra Costa Times, the San Jose Mercury News and the Oakland Tribune—all owned by MediaNews Group, which also owns three Butte County papers (including the Chico Enterprise-Record)—have cut staff in the face of declining revenues.