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Good Lord, The Chronicle's Owner Is On A Paper-Killing Rampage

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Here's some shocking news, if you're a journalist -- the Hearst Corporation, owners of the Houston Chronicle, are threatening to shut down the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sure, it sounds like posing in relation to upcoming union negotiations, but who knows these days? The privately held company sure sounds like it's playing hardball, according to the San Francisco paper (reporting on itself):

The Hearst Corp. today announced an effort to reverse the deepening operating losses of its San Francisco Chronicle by seeking near-term cost savings that would include "significant" cuts to both union and non-union staff.

In a posted statement, Hearst said if the savings cannot be accomplished "quickly" the company will seek a buyer, and if none comes forward, it will close the Chronicle. The Chronicle lost more than $50 million in 2008 and is on a pace to lose more than that this year, Hearst said.

This is not like Seattle, where Hearst is in the midst of closing the Post-Intelligencer, the smaller paper in a smallish market that has two papers.

The Chronicle is the major paper in San Francisco and has a news staff of 275 people.

"Because of the sea change newspapers everywhere are undergoing and these dire economic times, it is essential that our management and the local union leadership work together to implement the changes necessary to bring the cost of producing the Chronicle into line with available revenue," Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Hearst vice chairman and chief executive, and Steven R. Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, said in a joint statement

Boy, as if the Houston Chronicle people need to be any more worried, that statement sure reads shittily without the words "San Francisco" in it -- too easy to image further bad scenarios.

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