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Newspaper layoffs were worse in Bay Area

The Bay Area has been hit harder by newspaper layoffs than other parts of the country. That’s one of the points in an article published by the nonprofit SF Public Press on changes in the regional media environment.

The layoff figure comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, which said that half of all newspaper jobs in the Bay Area have disappeared since 2001, compared with 36% nationally.

On a national basis, those layoffs translated into roughly 1 million (mostly local) news stories not written in 2010, according to Ken Doctor, author of the Newsonomics blog for the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard.

The SF Public Press story, written by Jeremy Adam Smith, concludes that local governments are operating with less public scrutiny than at any time in living memory, at least as measured by the number of daily newspaper stories about their activities.

Another story in the SF Public Press series on the media focuses on changes in TV newsrooms, where VJs are now being used at all of the local stations except KTVU.

In that story, KRON News Director Brian Greif is quoted as saying that his station made a profit last year after its parent company emerged from bankruptcy, and that his morning news is beating KPIX and KNTV in the ratings.

KRON Station Manager Pat Patton said that when KRON transitioned to the VJ model, veteran reporters were told: “If you want to leave there’s no shame in leaving. We’ll let you out of your contract if you don’t want to do this.”

He added: “The irony of that is many of those did leave and went to other stations that are now going through the same thing.”

Dan Rosenheim, news director at Channel 5, emphasized that TV and TV news are still viable businesses, “but they are harder businesses and there is a lot more pressure on costs.” He estimated that the local advertising market has shrunk by 50% in the past decade, from about $700 million a year to between $300 million and $400 million today.

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