Having long railed against Bay Area news publishers for essentially ignoring an abundance of important stories and demanding readers in favor of Wine Country ad supplements and lurid screaming headlines, I read with some interest the following item, about the NY Times and Wall Street Journal’s plans for Bay Area editions:
Both The Journal and The Times seem to be betting that the Bay Area is the place to try first. Its biggest newspapers, The San Francisco Chronicle and The San Jose Mercury News, have suffered through some of the sharpest downsizing in the industry, and a very high percentage of the region’s residents moved from elsewhere, which usually means less attachment to the local paper.
I mean, how can a publisher, in a market it essentially owned, let it all slip away?
Maybe by … ignoring the stories that matter, and firing the reporters that do their best work?
Somehow — how, though, seriously, how? — these five-star newsroom professionals were viewed as liabilities in the Chronicle’s struggle for survival.
And now the news heavyweights are moving in. SFGate.com will do fine as a source for local lifestyle information (movies, restaurants, etc.) plus crime reporting and occasional City Hall columns, but can Hearst compete as a serious local news outlets given the devastation of the SF Chron’s reporting capacity? Let me note the Gate has already begun direct-linking to other outlets’ coverage of important stories they lack the firepower to cover.
And how does the Examiner fit in? Sure, they have a knack for punchy and succinct coverage of local news, but can they even give away wood pulp sporting 50-point morning headlines about major news items people learned about online the night before?
As ye sow, so shall ye reap, or something like that.