Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Union Concessions Save the Chronicle—For Now

America has lost another major urban daily paper while newsroom downsizings and cutbacks continue at an unprecedented pace, but the Bay Area’s most famous masthead will stay in print—at least for a while.

The latest fatality is Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, which closed Feb. 27, leaving the Mile High City a one-newspaper town, with only Dean Singleton’s Denver Post still standing.

And if the Hearst Corporation follows through on its threat to close the San Francisco Chronicle, Singleton could become the Bay Area’s reigning media king, with Denver media mogul Phillip Anschutz’s San Francisco Examiner, once the flagship of the Heart media empire, offering the only daily rival.

Hearst had threatened to shut or sell the Chronicle unless it received major concessions from the newspaper’s two unions.

The agreement announced Tuesday night by the paper and the Media Workers Guild may have delayed the Chronicle’s demise, but at a price: the guild agreed to terms that include significant reductions in seniority protections in coming layoffs.

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