Thursday, May 14, 2009

Strange Upside to the Loss of 150 SF Chronicle Reporters and Editors

Within the past 6 weeks, the Chronicle's staff has dropped precipitously through buyouts and layoffs.

But the news has turned out to be strangely good for authors and other artists.

That's because many former Chron reporters are now freelancing pieces for the paper, and lots of these stories feature artists.

It's understandable because a reporter can turn around a short profile in a day and when one is getting paid freelance rates ($250 a story?) speed and ease are important. More complex trend pieces take longer but are compensated at the same rate.

There have been at least four major profiles of Bay Area authors in just the past week. They include:

Steve Rubenstein wrote about Andy Raskin, the author of The Ramen King and I.

Heidi Benson wrote about Susan Cohen and Christine Cosgrove, who wrote a book about the use and misuse of growth hormones on children in Normal at Any Cost.

Edward Guthmann wrote about gay men and the divas they love, a book edited by Michael Montlack.

Regan McMahon wrote about Ayelet Waldman and her new memoir Bad Mother.

John McMurtrie, the editor of the book review, also penned an interview recently with Andrew Sean Greer.

This is definitely a huge increase from the period before the layoffs.


Anonymous said...

wanna bet the chron's paying less than $250 a piece?

Anonymous said...

The Chron is paying more than $250 a piece.

This actually does mean that some former staffers are getting more work, and more work in their area of strength, into the paper, ironically enough.

-- Chronicle insider

susan cohen said...

Thanks for mentioning Normal at Any Cost, which I co-authored. I'm not sure it makes any difference to your thesis, but Heidi began that piece while still on staff. She decided to take the buyout a few days after interviewing us, and the story was originally scheduled to run a month ago -- we're just relieved that it ran before the paper folds.

I was amazed by how few people get the Chronicle compared to a few years ago. An e-mail to the neighborhood in search of extra copies of the article turned up only three people who still subscribe. This is all unbearably sad to someone who has not only been a journalist for thirty years, but who taught others to enter a profession that is now melting away under them.