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Hearst: SF Chronicle to Close or Be Sold If Cuts Can’t Be Made

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New York-based Hearst Corp. announced today that it must sell the financially strapped San Francisco Chronicle or close it if it can’t dramatically lower expenses within the next few months.

It didn’t specify a savings target in Tuesday’s grim announcement, but said that the cost cutting will require significant layoffs. The newspaper’s Linkedin profile lists the number of employees at the newspaper from 500 to 1,000. Hearst said the Chronicle lost $50 million last year and is hemorrhaging even more money so far this year.
on the sales block, have filed for bankruptcy or are facing a possible shutdown.

Here is the text of the announcement:

Hearst Corporation announced today that its San Francisco Chronicle newspaper is undertaking critical cost-saving measures including a significant reduction in the number of its unionized and nonunion employees. If these savings cannot be accomplished within weeks, Hearst said, the Company will be forced to sell or close the newspaper.

Hearst said that the Chronicle lost more than $50 million last year and that this year’s losses to date are worse. The Chronicle has had major losses each year since 2001.

“Because of the sea change newspapers everywhere are undergoing and these dire economic times, it is essential that our management and the local union leadership work together to implement the changes necessary to bring the cost of producing the Chronicle into line with available revenue,” said Frank A. Bennack, Jr., vice chairman and chief executive officer, Hearst Corporation, and Steven R. Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers. They added, “Given the losses the Chronicle continues to sustain, the time to implement these changes cannot be long. These changes are designed to give the Chronicle the best possible chance to survive and continue to serve the people of the Bay Area with distinction, as it has since 1865. Survival is the outcome we all want to achieve. But without the specific changes we are seeking across the entire Chronicle organization, we will have no choice but to quickly seek a buyer for the Chronicle or, should a buyer not be found, to shut the newspaper down.”

Hearst noted that these cost reductions are part of a broad effort to restore the Chronicle to financial health. The Chronicle has been asking its readers to pay more for the product through home delivery and single-copy price increases. In June, the Chronicle expects to begin printing on new presses owned and operated by Transcontinental Inc., which will give the Chronicle industry-leading color reproduction capabilities.

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Written by newscycle

February 25, 2009 at 1:06 am

Posted in SF Chronicle

Tagged with ,

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