Shutdown In San Francisco? p. 23

By: M.L. STEIN THE LONG-rumored demise of the San Francisco Examiner could take place in "about a week," the San Jose Mercury News reported in its April 27 issue.
According to the story by
San Francisco-based staff writer Miranda Ewell, a deal has been cut to shut down Hearst's afternoon Examiner and merge it with the morning San Francisco Chronicle, which is owned by descendants of the Michel deYoung family.
The two papers, which have a joint operating agreement that extends to 2005, have been losing circulation, particularly the Examiner. They publish a joint Sunday edition with a circulation of over 600,000, but the Chronicle, with a daily circulation of over a half million, far outreaches the Examiner, which sells roughly 110,000 copies, mostly in street sales.
Reports of folding the Examiner have been met with denials or a "no comment" in past weeks.
John Sias, CEO of the Chronicle Publishing Co., declined to comment to E&P on a previous Mercury News story of an impending merger of the two papers.
Another Chronicle executive, who requested anonymity, said there was no basis to the reports, adding, "It's not going to happen."
A Chronicle newsroom staffer told E&P: "Some people around here are making a joke of the Mercury News story, but others are taking it real seriously."
A Hearst executive said only that, "We've been trying to resolve the situation in San Francisco for some time." Beyond that, he added, "Hearst does not comment on rumors."
Ewell's latest story quotes an unnamed source as saying: "The deal is essentially done. The details will be wrapped up in a week or so." Her account goes on to say that members of the deYoung family will turn over control of the combined paper to the Hearst Corp., but will acquire a significant majority share, possibly as much as 65%. Hearst would run the single morning newspaper, but would give the deYoung family a "significant input" on its editorial page. The JOA-type arrangement on the business side would be continued.
Apparently, in further attribution to her source, Ewell wrote that the merger "is expected to save tens of millions of dollars for both family-held companies."
Doug Cuthbertson, head of the San Francisco Newspaper Guild, which has contracts with both papers, was quoted as predicting that a combination paper could result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.
Most of the Chronicle's circulation is in San Francisco and in the broader San Francisco Bay Area, which is considered one of the nation's top markets.
At one time, the Examiner and Chronicle competed as morning papers, with the Examiner well in the lead in the 1940s and 1950s. The Examiner's decline began when the Hearst company agreed to convert it to an evening paper when the JOA was formed in 1965.


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