Sunday, August 30, 2009

No numbers yet in next round of layoffs

The San Francisco Business Times and the SF Weekly report that union leaders met with Chronicle management on Friday to talk about a coming round of layoffs, but no job numbers were disclosed.

However, management admitted that it was still losing $1 million a week -- the same figure it has given for its losses for several years now -- even though it has eliminated 481 jobs this year.

In the past year the Chron has:
After Friday's meeting with management, union official Carl T. Hall told the SF Weekly: "They are looking at all areas ... I wouldn't put the newsroom in any protected category."

Look for more announcements after Labor Day. The Guild is asking any of its 330 remaining members to step forward now if they're interested in a voluntary buyout.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

maybe its time to lay off Phil Bronstein?

Mark T said...

you didn't say how many employees the chron has left, but to cut ±$50 million would be a staggering blow to whatever is left at the chronicle ... if you figure each person costs 100K a year in salary and benefits, then you're talking about cutting 500 jobs to eliminate a 50-million annualized defict...what would be left? somebody, correct these numbers! i want to be wrong about this!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that Chronicle management jobs have also been cut this year, but you don't have numbers.

The new printing plant came on line. Has that reduced or increased weekly expenses?

Anonymous said...

Shut it down already. They will never make money so keeping getting rid of people won't solve their problems. Or maybe they need a new owner who can start over again.

Anonymous said...

To Mark T:

You've done the math correctly, assuming a $100k wage and health care package.

You could eliminate the entire newsroom -- literally have no reporters or editors left -- and still have around a $15 million to $25 million annual loss.

This may be a case where the numbers "don't pencil out." They haven't penciled out for quite some time at the Chronicle, ever since Hearst bought the paper.

Anonymous said...

They can't cut 500 jobs because there would be no one left. All they can do to further slash costs is keep cutting, sell their downtown real estate, and stop printing altogether on paper. Even then, they might be able to break even.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Chron will soon be an Internet-only operation. End of an era.

Bill N said...

The one number you don't have is sales revenue, which is down about 34% YTD. Part of that is the economy but it's also due to the constant changes at the Chronicle. For a long time, they stuck to their rate card. Then they started selling ads at fire sale prices. That hasn't worked. It's just make the Chronicle look cheap and desperate. Now they've gone back to the rate card. Probably too late.

Anonymous said...

The rumor (and I stress that I haven't heard anybody in management personally confirm this) is that Hearst wants the Chron to end the fourth quarter at a break-even basis, and if that's not possible, they'll shut it down. By the end of the third quarter (September 30), management should know if they can cut enough to break even. If they can't, there won't be a fourth quarter. Why waste the money? Hearst will pull the plug on Oct. 1. At least that's the widely repeated rumor, for whatever it's worth. I'm not saying this is the truth, but I've heard it so many times, I'm starting to wonder if it is true.

Anonymous said...

That sounds about right. Sad.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the 901 Mission St. property is worth more than the Chronicle itself.

Anonymous said...

There is one problem with the total 'shutting it down' option. Hearst owns the paper. William Randolph Hearst got his start in San Francisco and his Examiner became part of the Chron. Hearst is ending more than a century of family history if they shut it. And the Hearst company has many other assets to prop it up. It owns 20 percent of ESPN and many major magazines, for example. I'd guess Hearst will keep the Chron open but as a web-only publication with a tiny reporting staff of perhaps 25 people, like Hearst already did with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer earlier this year.

Anonymous said...

Newspapers are bad for the environment--shutting them all down is the only solution.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Hearst is ending more htan a century of family history if they shut it down."

I don't think the Hearsts give a rats ass about their history in San Francisco because, when they sold the Examiner to the Fangs, they also gave them the Examiner's morgue, dating back to the 1850s. The library took up a whole floor in the Warfield building. The current owner of the Examiner (I can't recall his name, but he's a conservative right-to-life nut case) gave the library to UC Berkeley.

In other words, a conservative oilman cares more about the newspaper business in SF than the Hearst family.

Anonymous said...

The Ex's owner is Phil Anschutz, and at least he cares more for the history of newspapers than Dean Singleton, owner of MediaNews. MediaNews literally trashed the library of the San Mateo Times a couple of years ago. I hear staffers tried to convince management to give the files to a local historical group, but management insisted that it all go in the dumpster. Way to go Singleton!

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, the Hearst Corporation isn't really a newspaper company, it's a lifestyle magazine/television company. Shutting down the Chronicle or making it Web-only wouldn't seem to tug at Hearst family heartstrings very strongly.

Anonymous said...

"I can't recall his name, but he's a conservative right-to-life nut case."

Spoken from the grave of an aborted reader.