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Hearst Corp. announced today (Feb. 24) that its San Francisco Chronicle, the city's major newspaper (by far) will be sold or shuttered within weeks if the company can't achieve major personnel economies -- both union and non-union. The company says the paper has suffered major losses each year since 2001 and lost more than $50 million last year. Hearst announced last month that it would try to sell the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, or close it down in 60 days. The San Diego Union-Tribune is among the many U.S. daily newspapers up for sale, and some believed that a possible buyer would be financially-strapped MediaNews of Denver, which has been getting monetary backing from Hearst. But Hearst has clearly shown during the last year that it has no more interest in newspapers. Last weekend, two newspaper groups, the Philadelphia Inquirer and its cousin, and the Journal Register, went bankrupt. Since December, Tribune Co., which includes the Los Angeles Times, has gone into the tank, and so has the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Denver's Rocky Mountain News is also on the block, and the owner, Scripps, thinks there will be a decision by the end of next month.

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Comments

Visduh Feb. 25, 2009 @ 10:01 p.m.

San Francisco losing its signature newspaper? Whether you liked it or not, it is as much a part of that strange city as the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, cable cars, foghorns, and steep hills. A major city with no big newspaper is impossible to imagine, yet it could happen before the year is out.

The implications of having these big-city daily newspapers folding would have been impossible to imagine a few years ago, and now the possibility of it happening is all too real. Doesn't the public need them? Don't curious citizens need the news? Guess not. This is a sea change in mass communication and for a free press, and most observers just don't see that.

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Burwell Feb. 25, 2009 @ 10:48 p.m.

The newspapers are going under because they will not sue Craigslist to stop its abusive business practices. The U-T should file a request for an injunction in Federal Court without delay to stop Craigslist from offering free classified advertising. David Copley should sue Craigslist to recoup the losses he has suffered from the decline in U-T's marekt value. Craigslist uses funds from EABY and other investors to underwrite huge losses it incurs providing free classified advertising. When the newspapers are put out of business, Craigslist will begin charging advertisers what the market will bear.

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Don Bauder Feb. 25, 2009 @ 11:06 p.m.

Response to post #1: Some of the papers that are expected to close down or go completely online are in two-newspaper cities that can't support two newspapers: Seattle and Denver, to name two. The Chronicle's loss would be traumatic. Newspapers have a demographic problem (few young readers) and a technological one (the news is delivered too late at too large an expense.) Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 25, 2009 @ 11:08 p.m.

Response to post #2: You have used that argument before. It may well be valid, but there has to be a reason that the papers haven't taken Craigslist to court. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Feb. 26, 2009 @ 9:14 a.m.

Classified advertising does not a profitable newspaper make. The larger source of revenue was once the display advertising run by retailers. Macy's, as an example, cannot reach its market through Craigslist. But it is no longer getting the necessary bang for its buck from the daily newspaper either.

As to the matter of the U-T suing Craigslist, Burwell needs to remember that The Reader offered free classified ads to its readers for many years. (Back in the low-tech days, they were submitted on a postcard!) I know this; I used them to sell household items, and successfully. So, is Burwell suggesting that the U-T sue or should have sued the Reader?

This is all an ongoing revolution in the field of communication, on par with the invention of the printing press. Only now it is the printing press that is being superseded by the digital computer.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 26, 2009 @ 11:46 a.m.

Herb Caen is probably roilling over in his grave at this awful news.

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2009 @ 2:01 p.m.

Response to post #5: Increasingly, I fear you are right. Daily newspapers are going. ( I think weekly free-circulation, alternative papers still have a good future.) People thought daily newspapers would not survive radio. Then it was TV. Now the Internet seems to be digging the grave, finally. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2009 @ 2:02 p.m.

Response to post #6: You may remember Herb Caen's classic line about San Diego: "beautiful but dumb." Best, Don Bauder

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