Business Week’s Jon Fine (pictured) says it’s only a matter of time until one of the nation’s big dailies goes paperless and becomes an entirely online product — and he thinks the money-losing Chronicle should be the first to make the plunge.

    “On paper, San Francisco is perfect: a Web-centric town, a cash-drain daily, and private ownership. …

    “All of this requires big thinking — and spending enough to create networks of local sites and a giant local portal. And it will take a brave man or woman to pull the plug on the presses.

    “It almost takes a William Randolph Hearst.”

Fine also gives the downside to such a move — that it would eliminate the estimated $23 million the Chron gets from selling papers and advertisers still pay more for print ads than online.

But this idea of going “paperless” isn’t out of left field for Hearst Corp. In Seattle, where Hearst’s Post-Intelligencer is in a joint operating agreement with the Seattle Times, talk of a “paperless” P-I abounded when the two partners got into a legal dispute earlier this year. Here’s a link to a Seattle Times article from April 1 where the logistics of a “paperless” paper were analyzed.

SF Press Club News,


  1. Wow, ironically, the minute I posted that last comment, a colleague handed a fax to me from a Chron source. It contains an e-mail from Fremont Associate Planner Scott Plamaeck:

    “We have received an application from Transcontinental to construct a 338,000 sq. ft. printing facility on Kato Road. The city is processing the required entitlements for the project, however the applicant has not broken ground.”

  2. Good question, Ted. We reported on the Guardian blog a while back that Transcontinental had been scouting some locations in the area, going so far as to contact local economic development coordinators. They made such a big announcement when the deal was inked, I don’t know how a contract of that size could simply fizzle out.

  3. On “paper” it looks like a good idea, but I don’t like it. 1)I like reading the paper on BART. 2)It puts paper vendors and circulation out of business. 3) It’s REALLY unfair to the elderly and those non-tech or the poor. I think the Chron is being mismanaged by Hearst and needs to sever (sp?) its ties, personally. BUT NOT BOUGHT BY MEDIANEWS!!!!!!

  4. is the transcon deal still going to happen? i ask because they need to have the plant up and running by Q2 2009 and they don’t even have a site yet …

  5. The only problem with any suggestion that the Chron go paperless is that little $1 billion contract they signed with Trancontinental to build the company a new press in the Bay Area.

  6. the chronicle constantly preaches environmentalism, global warming, etc. — if they go paperless, they will actually practice what they preach!

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