As the Chronicle begins cutting 25% of its news staff, Aarti Shah of PR Week wonders in this commentary whether the cuts will force the newspaper to return to its roots as a city paper, instead of the regional one it has become. She writes:

    “Covering the entire Bay Area worked when the Chronicle directly rivaled the San Francisco Examiner, notes John Burks, retired chair of the journalism department at San Francisco State University. Since the papers merged in 1999, he says, the Chronicle has continued its regional strategy with a smaller staff and hasn’t been able to compete with the local publications.

    “‘Reaching out to the suburban readers who have more money made sense from an advertising perspective,’ but when the Hearst Corp.-owned Chronicle did things like discontinue its zoned editions, the outreach stopped working, Burks notes.

Shaw notes that if the Chron cuts its news coverage, that will affect other area media — especially television, radio, and bloggers — that rely on the Chronicle to set the news agenda. “[I]f there is no clear news leader setting the standard, will we even know what we’re missing?,” Shaw asks.

SF Press Club News

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