The Merc and Chron are about two-thirds lighter than they were 10 years ago. If you’re a regular newspaper reader, you already knew that. But the nonprofit SF Public Press, which is doing a series on the changing Bay Area media environment, actually did the measurements and the math.

Reporters Erica Reder and Justin Morrison took a week’s worth of papers from 2000 and 2010 and found:

    • That on the same day each week, a Tuesday, the Chron was 60% smaller than in 2010 and the Merc was 66% smaller. They took into account both reduced page counts and the narrower page sizes both papers have adopted as cost-cutting measures. 
    • The page count of the Sunday editions fell from 394 to 220 at the Chron and from 300 to 88 at the Merc. Weekday page counts also fell. 
    • In 2000, ads made up 47% of the column inches in a weekday edition of the Chron. In 2010, that figure slipped to 31%. At the Merc, it’s fallen from 61% to 42% in a decade. 
    • The number of bylined articles in both papers has dropped. The Chron ran 823 over the seven-day period in 2000, and only 599 a decade later. The Merc published 938 bylines that September week in 2000, dropping to 630 bylines in 2010. 
    • Of those stories, about three-quarters were produced by Chron staff in both years, and about three-fifths by Merc staffers.
Bay Area Media News


  1. These papers are not 'increasingly irrelevant.' The Chronicle and the Mercury News remain the largest media organizations in the Bay Area, and the primary source of news for Bay Area residents. Most TV and radio reports come from the two newspapers. And the two papers are not smaller because of the kind of stories they write, but because — as with every other paper in the US — their classified advertising revenue has been all but vaporized by craigslist and eBay. Less revenue = smaller staff and smaller news hole. Do your homework before you post nonsense.

  2. I wish there had been more detail to this research — for instance, which sections were cut more? Did sports suffer as much as entertainment? Did local news decline as much as wire news? See if you can get those numbers from SF Pub Press.

  3. The issue isn't relevance but that people are increasingly getting news online. These figures reflect that shift.

  4. Not surprising. These papers have become increasingly irrelevant. The public's stopped caring what the Chronicle puts on its cover. So of course advertising is going to plunge as well as readership. Maybe this can serve as a wake-up call to journalists that they need to put out more compelling work than what these papers serve up every day.

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