Media Meltdown

Harder to Chronicle: fewer reporters cover more territory as Hearst, Media News reduce coverage overlap

Angela Hart, SF Public Press — Jun 2 2011 - 12:02pm

BYGONE BUREAUS: 8 of 9 local offices of the San Francisco Chronicle shuttered in last decade

This story appeared in the spring print edition as part of the Public Press’ media package of stories.

The days of the major daily newspapers in the Bay Area battling on each others’ home turf for domination is over, as consolidation and staff reductions forced them to slash bureaus and zoned editions. The San Francisco Chronicle, which a decade ago had nine news bureaus scattered across the entire Bay Area,  now just has one, in Oakland. And in San Mateo County, where the pressroom used to be packed with reporters from radio, TV and newspapers, most days there is only a single reporter from a regional wire service.

Story of a survivor: coastal paper maintains civic coverage despite cuts

Tom Honig, SF Public Press — Jun 2 2011 - 11:31am

This article appeared in the spring print edition as part of the Public Press’ media package of stories.  

When the Santa Cruz Sentinel was sold by Ottaway Newspapers to the ever-expanding MediaNews Group, editor Tom Honig didn’t like what he was seeing. The printing plant was shuttered, layoffs were orders and the newspaper moved out of Santa Cruz itself to nearby Scotts Valley. He made himself one of the layoff victims. But looking back, he now sees that civic journalism has survived thanks to the hard work of the smaller staff.

Editors’ note: reporting on ourselves

Editors, SF Public Press — May 31 2011 - 5:52pm

ON THE MEDIA REPORTING PROJECT: Traditionally, news organizations have drawn clear distinctions between opinion and factual reporting. And in the event of even the appearance of a conflict of interest, the reporter is reassigned. The problem is, the media are powerful. What journalists write and say can make the difference in clarifying complex public policies, helping consumers make wise decisions and preventing social and even criminal injustice. The Public Press commissioned a team of experienced journalists to report — and in some cases reflect on — the rapidly changing media landscape. All have conflicts of interest in that they make their living, as best they can, in what remains of the news industry. Nonetheless, we thought that this was an important story to tell.

Union leader says jobs will not return, urges media workers to reinvent selves

Shawn Gaynor, SF Public Press — May 24 2011 - 2:35pm

LABOR: Organized labor needs to do more to help freelancers, says Guild officer

This article appeared as part of the Public Press' Spring print edition media package of stories. 

Former San Francisco Chronicle science writer and union activist Carl Hall took a buyout from the newspaper in 2009. He is now executive officer of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, which represents union newsroom workers at Bay Area newspapers. He talked about changes in the Bay Area’s print news landscape and the future of unionized journalism.

Half of Bay Area newspaper jobs gone in last decade

Jeremy Adam Smith and Michael Stoll, SF Public Press — May 23 2011 - 11:32am

MEDIA CENSUS: Newspapers hardest hit, losing nearly 4,000 workers

This article appeared as part of the Public Press' Spring print edition media package of stories. 

State and federal labor statistics show that employment among Bay Area media workers fell 43 percent since 2001, a result of massive restructuring at local news outlets whose financial losses measured in the billions of dollars. Newspapers were hit the hardest, shedding upwards of 4,000 employees. As dozens of papers merged in an effort to cut costs, reporters who used to compete for scoops found their jobs redundant. While employment appears to have risen in the television and radio sector over all, journalists among them did not fare so well, state employment data suggest.

10 years on, a daily Chronicle 60% lighter; Mercury News shed 66%

Erica Reder and Justin Morrison, SF Public Press — May 13 2011 - 8:19am

Shrinking newspapers: Both papers lost sections, pages and advertisers

This article appeared as part of the Public Press' Spring print edition media package of stories. 

 In early May, when the official industry rankings came out, the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News touted slight gains in Sunday circulation after years of declines, suggesting that the local newspaper industry just might be coming back. But the number of papers thrown on Bay Area doorsteps tells only part of the story. Even the most optimistic interpretation of readership statistics can’t hide the publications’ anemic page counts. Both papers have shrunk dramatically in the past 10 years. 

5,000 new media startups — can one save local news?

David Weir, SF Public Press — May 12 2011 - 8:10am

RISE OF THE NEWS MACHINES: The future has arrived and it’s called the Age of Data

This article appeared as part of the Public Press' Spring print edition media package of stories.

San Francisco sits at the epicenter of a brand new tech boom revolving around several thousand variously funded startup companies. The organizer of the premier mixer for entrepreneurs in the city, Christian Perry of SF Beta, estimates that there are between 4,000 and 6,000 such outfits in the city. (His current mailing approaches 5,000.) Many other ventures can be found in the Valley or in tech-focused business strips all over the East Bay and Marin.At the same time that all this feverish activity is taking place — and some would say because of it — there have been massive dislocations among the people who traditionally dug up the news. So how might these new ventures impact the future of journalism?

 

One million missing stories

Jeremy Adam Smith, SF Public Press — May 11 2011 - 1:52pm

POST PINK SLIPS: Displaced journalists see opportunities to cover community on their own

This article appeared as part of the Public Press' Spring print edition media package of stories. 

Since 2000, metro newspapers across the country have laid off an estimated 14,000 (out of 56,400) editors and reporters — a number that does not include journalists working for wire services, weekly newspapers or other media, all of which have suffered their own losses — according to blogger Ken Doctor, who writes the influential Newsonomics blog for the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard. There are simply fewer trained eyes on city halls, police departments, schools and corporate boardrooms. As Doctor writes on his blog, “That news-gathering ... is what’s key to community information and understanding, fairly prerequisite in our struggling little democracy.”

As ad revenues and staffs shrink, TV news turns to technology

Mineko Brand, SF Public Press — May 11 2011 - 11:13am

BROADCASTING: Multi-person news teams turn into solo 'VJs'

This article appeared as part of the Public Press' Spring print edition media package of stories. 

Local TV stations, the No.1 news source for people in the Bay Area, are scrambling to adapt their news formats and slash budgets to fend off the triple threat of diminishing ad revenue, growing Internet adoption and cable news. To do so, they are using technology to turn multi-person news teams into solo "VJs." News directors say it is the best use of dwindling resources and gains in technology. But critics say the cost to local viewers is less information about substantial topics and more crime and weather coverage.

 

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