'SF Chronicle' Web Site Mourns Those Who Lost Jobs

By: Joe Strupp They read like items one might post on Legacy.com or some other such memorial to the dead. "Used witty or acerbic lines of prose," "had deep affection for his colleagues," or " I've never seen anyone work as hard as he did."

But these words of praise and stories of success are not for the recent passing of a news colleague or someone cut down in a work-related death. These paragraphs of praise, found at the San Francisco Chronicle Web site, SFGate.com, are for those who have departed in another way. They lost their jobs.

As the Hearst paper clears the newsroom of an expected 100 of its 400 staffers, the Web site has been posting obit-like items that give the purging of journalists there an even grimmer outlook. It's dubbed "Colleagues Remembered," under News and Features.

"We wanted a way for people to share memories, I think it is a nice thing to do," said Vlae Kershner, news director for SFGate.com, who credited Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein with the idea and implementation. "I think everyone feels very sad that we are losing so many really good people."

At least 21 such tributes have been posted on the site since the cutbacks, via layoffs and buyouts, began earlier this month.

"Anna Badkhen's reporting, in her five plus years at the Chronicle, stamped her as one of the finest foreign and national correspondents in the profession," read the tribute posted last week to Badkhen, who will go to the Boston Globe for a one-year assignment. "The response from readers, colleagues and the numerous awards she received are testament to that. Whether in Iraq, the Middle East, Kashmir or Chechnya -- or nearer home, in Katrina-traumatized New Orleans -- Anna's goal was always to bring out the human dimension of conflict. This she did consistently, often heartbreakingly, and in many cases, under fire -- a price she paid for physically."

Kershner said more are likely as other staffers take buyouts or find themselves ousted: "There are many more to come, I believe. The idea is to do it for everyone."


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