An American Daily Newspaper Commits Suicide

There really is no other way to headline this. I am watching a once great newspaper commit suicide.

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s weekday circulation recently dropped 16.4 percent. The Chronicle’s decided to cut 100 of its 400 remaining newsroom jobs.

When a product’s popularity drops that much in a single year, in what other industry would executives decide to continue producing the same product but with even less substance to it?

I’ve seen newspapers shoot themselves in the foot, but never before in the head.

[By the way, a few days ago I wrote about Jon Fine‘s speculation that The San Francisco Chronicle should stop printing and distribute news online only. I suggested that a much more likely cost-cutting measure would be for that newspaper to outsource its printing. What I didn’t know at the time (and I suspect Fine didn’t either) is that the Chronicle has already signed an agreement to outsource its production to a third-party printer. Alan Mutter‘s blog brought it to my attention. The outsourcing deal will cost the jobs of 230 unionized press operators when the new plant opens in 2009. When this outsourcing contract was signed, I wonder how large a newspaper the Chronicle‘s executives thought they’d be producing in 2009?]

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