Chronicle to purge 150 starting April 1 — A cruel April fools joke?

The SF Chronicle’s carbon footprint is getting smaller, about 150 people smaller.  Some may feel a little foolish now about turning off their lights for Earth Hour, especially when they learn that Al Gore kept the lights on in his 9,000 sq ft mansion. California’s power use didn’t budge. It was a dim idea. 

Back to the lights out on newspapers top heavy with executive editors: 

“Until the current newspaper crisis, you rarely heard politicians or activists bleating about how important newspapers were to self-government. They mostly bitched about what awful failures newspapers were at uncovering vital data. The only group that holds a consistently high opinion of newspapers is newspaper people,” Jack Shafer.

He cites a recent Pew study that shows most people don’t care if their local newspaper folds, and he says they have a point — few of the stories printed every day “are likely to supercharge the democratic impulse,” and even the ones that do, generally fail to spur voters to do anything.

 

Slate‘s Shafer laughs at the high-minded talk of the critical role newspapers play in a democracy, declaring, “I can imagine citizens acquiring sufficient information to vote or poke their legislators with pitchforks even if all the newspapers in the country fell into a bottomless recycling bin tomorrow.”

Shafer shows that some of the people arguing for the importance of newspapers — academics and liberal activists — have shown little love for them in the past.

CHRONICLE UNIT BULLETIN — It’s official!

More than 80 Chronicle staff members took the severance deal on March 31, 2009. The overall number will be 150 in the next two weeks. Is anyone keeping a talley? Has it been 500 cuts the last four years? That’s my estimate.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of the large number of employees volunteering for termination during The SF Chronicle’s voluntary termination period, the WARN Act provisions requiring 60 days advance notice of involuntary layoffs is not valid. That means that after April 1, another 80 will be given their walking papers.

The company would have no legal need to give the 60-day notice provided for under the WARN Act.

Some members have said that they would not apply for the voluntary termination package and would, instead, wait for the layoff in order to get 60 days notice and the additional pay involved. Given the current situation, however, the Guild advises against taking this course of action because it appears there is a good possibility that the 60 days additional notice with pay won’t materialize. Remember that after April 3, 2009 no member regardless of age can receive the Supplemental Pension Benefit as a lump sum and all will have to take it as a monthly annuity. So if the Supplemental Pension Benefit as a lump sum from the Guild Pension Plan is important to you, and if the 60 days notice you were counting on is no longer a solid possibility, and you are certain you want to leave The Chronicle, we suggest that you should strongly consider volunteering to terminate your employment by the 5 p.m. March 31 deadline.

So, if another 50 or more rush to get your modest buyouts. The remainder who wait very well could end up with an extra 60 days pay.  Not a bad bet. And there are still 60 days of skiing at Heavenly and Squaw Valley.

 “Until the current newspaper crisis, you rarely heard politicians or activists bleating about how important newspapers were to self-government. They mostly bitched about what awful failures newspapers were at uncovering vital data. The only group that holds a consistently high opinion of newspapers is newspaper people,” Jack Shafer.

 Names of Chronicle staff taking the buyouts are piling up like winos in front of the Salvation Army food kitchen.   

Some of the paper’s veteran reporters and biggest names are leaving. It looks like music, books and arts coverage will be hit hard, as well as the photo department.

 Here are the names so far:

 Joel Selvin, who has covered the rock and roll scene for 30 years or so.

 Carl Hall, a longtime science reporter currently on leave.

 Tom Meyer, editorial cartoonist.

 Zachary Coile, a long-time reporter in the Washington D.C. bureau.

 Nancy Gay, who covers 49ers football and other major league teams. 

Three of the papers top culture writers are departing, including:

 Jesse Hamlin, Edward Guthmann, and Heidi Benson. They frequently profile authors, actors, and musicians.

Sabin Russell, who has covered science for decades.

Alison Biggar, the long-time editor of the Chronicle Magazine.

Sylvia Rubin, who covers fashion.

Bernadette Tansey, a biotech reporter. (She has been writing a new feature each Sunday that I love, a round-up of books on a particular business topic, but done in a very clever way.)

The photography department will take a big hit as six photographers, including Pulitzer-Prize winner Kim Komenich, are departing. The others include Michael Maloney, Craig Lee, Eric Luse, Mark Costatini and Kurt Rogers, a sports photographer

Other departures include:

Kevin Albert, editorial assistant

Greg Ambrose, copy editor

Charles Burress (who has covered Berkeley for years.)

Peter Cafone, sports copy editor

Ken Costa, graphic designer

Elizabeth Hughes, copy editor
Leslie Innes, Datebook editor
Timothy Innes, foreign news wire editor
Rod Jones, copy editor, news
Eric Jungerman, designer
Kathy Kerrihard, library researcher
Simar Khanna, editor of Home and Garden section

Even lower level employees are taking the bum’s rush:

Bonnie Lemons, copy editor, news
Glenn Mayeda, editorial assistant, sports
Johnny Miller, library researcher
Dan Giesin, sports night copy editor
Janice Greene, editorial assistant on the op-ed page
Shirley-Anne Owden, copy editor, features
Courtenay Peddle, copy editor, news
Lee Sims, copy editor, news
Michelle Smith, a sports reporter who covers women’s basketball
Patricia Yollin, metro reporter

There are many, many more. Please post what you know on comments.

 So the list will grow longer. Hearst wanted to lay off as many as 225 workers, (and threatened to shutter the paper) but backed off after the Newspaper Guild agreed to cuts in vacation time and seniority rules.

I wonder how these soon to be retired professionals feel now about their liberal politics, the kind that use their taxes to pay for the Mayor Gavin Newsom to fly off to Davos, Paris and London to mingle with the rich and powerful world leaders, while the “good people” work 50-hour weeks and pay nearly 50 percent of their wages in tax?

This is a profile of journalists in Gawker:

“While journalists might continue to forge forward despite workload, deadlines and salary issues, they will not stand by as the foundation of journalism crumbles beneath them. At that point, they will quit,” the study concludes. Hey! Anyone want to start a rock band or a truffle farm with me? Clips not required.



 

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Major city newspapers will go nonprofit to keep influence

Major cities such as San Francisco, Washington D.C., LA, Chicago, New York, Houston and Philadelphia may convert the serviving newspapers into nonprofits to keep their political and philanthropic status. 

The San Francisco Chronicle will be the first to test the entity. 

San Francisco investment banker Warren Hellman and other prominent SF  lawyers and investors made an informal proposal  last week to Hearst, owners of the San Francisco Chronicle about helping the troubled daily paper become a nonprofit, San Francisco attorney Bill Coblentz told the SF Business Times.

Hellman and Coblentz discussed the idea, then Coblentz conveyed it to former San Francisco Examiner editor and publisher William R. Hearst III, who is a Hearst Corp. director and an affiliated partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. William is one of the working Hearsts who lives in the Bay Area and keeps touch with The Chronicle on a daily basis. It’s unofficially the Hearst flagship, though in money making ability, their Houston Chronicle is by far the financial headquarters. 

“What happened after that, I don’t know,” said Coblentz, who is out of town.

The proposal would be for a nonprofit corporation “to take over the Chronicle,” with Hearst Corp. continuing to provide some philanthropic support, Coblentz said. Details remain sketchy. It’s unclear if the proposal is being seriously considered.

 

Editorial-wise they are already PBS in print, aren’t they? 

 

Most trusted media? Not newspapers.

Besides skiing, wine gulping and dining 24/7, there are some presentations at Davos. I know, it is hard to believe.

Two thirds of people in the Western world don’t trust newspaper articles.

Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, began a session saying that trust is an issue for the press as well as government and big business. Edelman found that trust in business magazines and analysts fell from 57% to 44% and from 56% to 47% respectively. Trust in TV news is down from 49% to 36% and in newspaper coverage from 47% to 34%.

The least trusted businesses: Banking and the auto business. In general the U.S., India, U.K., Poland and China, there is much more trust in business than in government. The French, Germans and most of Europe believe  in Big Brother over the private sector. The sad part, the U.S. is moving toward the French.

The Rod Blagojevich tapes started on Oct. 22, more than a year after the investigations started. Yet, no mention from the media until weeks after the election

Breaking news. 

Governor Rod Blagojevich gave a press confernence Dec. 19, at 2 p.m. announcing his side of the story for the first time.

“I’m hear to tell you right off the bat that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing and that I intend to stay on the job and that I will fight this thing every step of the way,” said Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) proclaimed his innocence in the opening volley of a statement delivered at the John R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago this afternoon.

“I will fight, I will fight, I will fight, until I take my last breath,” he continued.  “I have done nothing wrong.”

I believe him. I don’t think he did anything wrong. What about Obama’s chief of staff? 

President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had a deeper involvement in pressing for a U.S. Senate seat appointment than previously reported, the Sun-Times has learned. Emanuel had direct discussions about the seat with Gov. Blagojevich, who is is accused of trying to auction it to the highest bidder. — Reported by the Chicago Sun-Times (not the Tribune).  

We know now that hundreds of hours of conversations involving Rod Blagojevich and the top levels of the Democrat Party, were secretly recorded by the FBI since Oct. 22, and Tribune jounalists didn’t mention it — not until after the election of course. Wouldn’t the citizens of America have been better served if they knew about the investigation before the election? 

But it gets more interesting. 

It appears there was a marathon conference call on Nov. 10, with Blago getting all kinds action from the Obama and Chicago Democrat machine. This must have been big. Really big. Because someone tipped off the Tribune to announce to the world about the wire tap and the Obama lock down began. But this was before Blagojevich and Obama’s team exchanged favors, so no crime was committed. The Tribune got a call, from who? Could it be Tony Rezco (the former Tribune editor) to expose the wire tap before Obama’s team made the payoff? Who gave the Tribune the call to spill the beans? 

A WSJ report on Dec. 14 states that the Tribune knew about the wire in October and was working with Pat Fitzgerald’s office on withholding the story.

All is well in Crook County, Ill. 

Thousands of Avis customers are being billed for “unpaid” Ill tollroad fees that were supposed to be charged to the EZ toll devices. Millions of dollars are going to the corrupt Democrat Chicago machine. That’s chump change. This is Chicago! 

Tell us your Chicago stories. 

Buyouts, layoffs, big declines in readership and ads — it is a bleak Christmas for newspapers

The decline of the newspaper media monopoly never slows. If you have any stock in newspaper-heavy media, it’s too late to get out. As of the end of 2008, 30 daily newspapers are for sale. Buyouts were the good old days. Now there are brutal Christmans-time layoffs. Google the Gannett Blog and find a running count by an ex-Gannetter. 

The layoffs and firings that started this week at newspapers owned by Gannett, including at the flagship USA Today, have been especially ruthless,  in addition to being timed just weeks before Christmas, they number in the thousdands.  But why not? These are mainly socialists and athiests who mock families and call moms breeders. 

It’s bloody news for newspaper journalists. Even the sill profitable Gannett newspapers (many still have profit margins at 20 percent) are shedding employees at a breathtaking rate. 

This week  a Gannett spokesperson said the cuts are being managed locally, at each newspaper, which is why as a company they’ve not released figures on specific jobs other than to say it’s a 10 percent cut companywide. While early figures compiled paper-by-paper totaled 1,700 Gannett jobs cut, it looks like that number may well pass 2,000 by next week.

In just the past week several thousand newspaper employees in America have lost their jobs, Cox Newspapers announced the closing of their Washington, DC, bureau, and the Tribune Co. will lay off more people at their flagship paper in Chicago.

In Chicago the credit analyst Fitch Ratings predicted that the continued decline in advertising revenues will cause some newspapers to default on their debt in 2009, and rated the debt of two huge newspaper companies – The McClatchy Co. and Tribune Co. – ask “junk.” Fitch also predicted that several cities could find themselves without daily print newspapers by 2010.

As many as 1,700 Gannett jobs were cut this week, from assistant managing editors on down, including reductions of up to 31 percent of the staff at one newspaper, The Salinas Californian, according to a reader tally on a blog published by a former Gannett worker, Jim Hopkins.

 

The most recent E&P (an online Web site on newspapers that ironically ended its print edtions a decade ago) reports that recruitment advertising declined in May. The Newspaper Conference Board, which measures job ads in 51 print newspapers across the country, said its Help-Wanted Advertising Index is 33. It was 38 one year ago.

“This is certainly a more negative picture going into the second half of the year, compared to the beginning of the year,” Ken Goldstein, a labor economist at the Conference Board, said in a statement.

In the last three months, help-wanted advertising fell in all nine U.S. regions.

 


The Dallas Morning News (a monopoly) said today it’s going to offer buyouts to the newsroom. That means waving a modest proposal of a few extra weeks of severance pay in front of the noses of older employees. Reality check: the UAW buyouts give auto workers 90 percent of their pay and free health care for life.

 

I was walking my dog this morning at 5:30 a.m. and watched a newspaper carrier in a junk car speeding around my neighborhood to drop a paper at every 20th house or so. Just a few years ago, 40 percent of the homes subscribed to the paper. 

Imagine the carbon footprint of that old smokestack medium. 


“We won’t have to smell the tourists anymore” — Harry Reid, Democrat Senate Leader

The brand new, $650 million Capitol Visitors Center, which opened this morning, may have tripled its original budget and fallen years behind schedule, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found a silver lining for members of Congress: tourists won’t offend them with their B.O. anymore. — Reported in the  D.C.  Examiner.

“My staff tells me not to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway,” said Reid in his remarks. “In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. It may be descriptive but it’s true.” “…We won’t have to smell the tourists anymore, the new Capitol Visitors Center is sectioned off.”

Can you imagine if Sarah Palin said that?

The center also has a gift shop. How about T-shrits with Harry Reid’s thoughts?

“We won’t have to smell
the tourists anymore.” 
— Harry Reid, Democrat Senator from Nevada

McCain should pick Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska for VP

This post was published on Aug 25, 2008 

There is talk that Sen. John McCain will take more air out of the Democrat Convention by announcing his VP on Thursday. Good plan. Now, make it Sarah Palin and he will get some of Hillary’s disenfranchised voters. Palin has it all, good looks right out of central casting, intelligent speaker, family values and governor of Alaska.

She has positive energy and wit. She will be able to out debate Biden and show that the Republicans trust a women for high office.

Visit http://palinforvp.blogspot.com/

Drill here, drill now!

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin