How Understaffed is the San Francisco Chronicle? (East Bay Express, too)
Today, two of my friends asked me to defend my suggestion on Twitter that the San Francisco Chronicle is understaffed. So I went back to look at the numbers, and gave a quick call to Media Workers Guild spokesman Carl Hall.
In the past few years, the Chron has gone from a 400-person newsroom to a 120- person newsroom. Apologies for my limited graphic design skills:
UPDATE: They’re not alone. In comparison, the local (and now independent) alt weekly East Bay Express had 13 full time editorial staffers in 2005, and now has 4.5, a loss of about 65 percent. So yes, also pretty drastic. The chart:
Here’s a partial timeline of the cuts to the Chron’s newsroom in recent years (thrown together very quickly, so corrections or additions are welcome):
May 2007: The paper announces they will be cutting back their 400-person newsroom by 25 percent, eliminating 80 unionized jobs and 20 managerial positions. “This is one of the biggest one-time hits we’ve heard about anywhere in the country,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, says.
August 2008: The Chron announces they’ll be cutting another 125 positions, although not all from the newsroom. “They’re cutting deep into muscle, sinew and bone now,” Media Guild representative Carl Hall said. “It seems like the entire industry is in a death spiral.”
March 2009: The paper threatens to lay off 225 more people, most from the newsroom. In negotiations with the Media Workers’ Guild, they offer to reduce the cuts to merely 150 total people in exchange for concesssions from the guild. (That’s a 30 % cutback.) The guild accepts the conditions, which include an extra two hours of work a week for employees who manage to keep their jobs.
April 2009: The Columbia Journalism Review reports that 120 staffers had accepted buyouts.
January 2011: Carl Hall of the Media Workers Guild told me today that the newsroom now has about 120 employees, and that the newsroom has been relatively stable for past year. The Wall Street Journal notes that the newsroom is only 40 percent the size it was in January 2009.
If anyone else has stats for me and would like to add a chart to this gallery, just let me know: beckett.lois[at]gmail.