San Francisco hasn't had a good newspaper in years. The Chronicle has been mediocre since at least 2000, but things got much worse following the Examiner/Chronicle merger. At first it seemd like the combined editorial staff would work better, but without competition the Chronicle has slid into increasing mediocrity. Not to mention the offense of the anti-trust merger scam involving Hearst, Willie Brown, and the Fang family.

The Chronicle is now so bad it's difficult to even read it. And it's only going to get worse; they're about to lay off 25% of the editorial staff. Reportedly they're losing $1 million / month. And despite having one of the better online news sites their web operations aren't saving them, either. The Chron has been reduced to filling the bottom of the front page with a giant print banner ad; it's humiliating.

Sunday's Chron included an outside op/ed called The Death of News lamenting the financial problems of the newspaper industry. Unfortunately, the only conclusion he offers is some vague idea that the death of newspapers is all Google's fault and Google should save them. But it's not really Google. If anything, Craigslist is eating up the newspaper's classified ads market way more than Google. And why aren't good newspaper websites enjoying the same Google advertising revenue that newer online sites do?

A big part of the problem is that newspaper content isn't exclusive. I read my wire articles on with Google ads (that I usually block). I never go to the Chronicle's website. It's sad that even the country's best paper, the New York Times, seems to be losing money.

We need to fund investigative journalism somehow. It's essential to US democracy.

  2007-05-30 17:11 Z