Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Picking Up the Pieces in the Bay Area

Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein sent around a memo on Tuesday promising not to lay off any more management staff. But Hearst executives plan to approach the Newspaper Guild soon to discuss voluntary buyouts for the 80 reporters who still have to go.

Those remaining at the Chronicle have set up a blog to help their former colleagues find new employment. (In a side note, Chronicle Book Editor Oscar Villalon commented at the BEA fair in New York last weekend that the Chronicle has lost $330 million in recent years.)

Meanwhile, the folks south in San Jose are gritting their own teeth. There is no official word, but rumors are circulating that the Mercury News will cut another 60 reporters and editors at the end of the “cooling off” period set up late last year.

John Bowman, the executive editor of the San Mateo Times, which is part of the Media News group, broke rank with other company executives to reveal secret meetings held in April to discuss the cutbacks.

“Mr. Bowman said he disclosed the layoff plan and resigned as executive editor of the Times because he was fed up with MediaNews' policies of trying to run newspapers short-handed,” he told the website Grade The News.

"They're way past the point of diminishing returns, of penny-wise, pound-foolish," Mr. Bowman said of MediaNews' operations in the Bay Area.

As one Mercury News staffer put it “The Chronicle will be down to 300 when their cuts are done, and the Merc will be at 180 if the rumored 60 layoffs happen!!! The Bay Area will be the biggest intellectual/innovation center in the nation with the fewest daily reporters.”

Some names were left off the list of the departing editors: Washington Bureau Chief Mark Sandalow was also let go.

This is a peculiar act since Sandalow was all over the television and radio when Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House. He’s been covering her for years. Now why would a paper fire someone who is probably better positioned than anyone else to keep tabs on the third most powerful person in the country?

Also, John Curley was not the last remaining person on the masthead from the days before Hearst bought the Chronicle. Editorial page editor John Diaz has been working for the Chronicle pre-Hearst.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Merc is having a staff meeting in about an hour, and it won't be good news.