It's no secret that the newspaper business is suffering through tough times. The vast majority of print publications are losing lots of readers and money. When the NY Times is having trouble--the big, bad gray lady of newspaper biz, you know there is a considerable source of anxiety in the print business.
Which leads me to the subject of the health of the SF Chronicle and its popular, but financially-troubling website, SFGate. I have heard ominous rumors about the state of the paper. Keep in mind that the Chronicle is owned by the Hearst Corp. which has deep financial resources, but how much money can you lose before waiving the white flag? And the Chronicle is losing a lot of money. How much is anyone's guess but like the Times, there's been a healthy amount of staff reduction and layoffs at the Chron. That's troubling.
Moreover, newspapers have tried to create revenue by installing paywalls on their digital platforms. Some have been successful like the Wall Street Journal; others, including the Times and the Chron, are treading on rough waters. The fact remains that there's so much free content on the web that most publications have found it difficult to gain a profit by selling its content on the web. Initially, the Times paywall was successful. Almost a hundred-thousand new paid subscribers bought subscriptions yet the Times is still losing lots of money. Not good.
A prominent Bay Area sports columnist told me recently that within the next five years the region will have only one newspaper. He was emphatic about that. I brushed it aside until I read that several newspapers, including the vaunted LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, and NY Times--major papers all in financial purgatory. This is a sad time for the print newspaper business.
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