Slouching Toward Extinction?
By Gretchen Giles
Readers of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat picked unusually slim papers up from their driveways on Monday, Jan. 19. Mondays are always light news days in print, but as executive editor Catherine Barnett explained in a "To Our Readers" note on the front page, such trim is the new norm for the PD, on Mondays at least. Announcing that, due to spiraling print and paper costs (don't we know it!), the Monday paper will be just two sections from now on instead of four, she writes quite plainly, "Some editors try to promote the two larger sections as being preferable to four smaller sections. I won't do that. Both the publisher and I have spent the better part of our careers trying to grow the reach, credibility and quality of the Press Democrat's news report, and we both find it dispiriting to cut the newspaper."
A quick count of the Jan. 19 edition finds just seven of the PD's 40 editorial staffers with a byline; the rest of the content is all from syndicated national sources, an unfortunate coincidence being that even the editorial hole was filled that day by a national source—President Obama. We hate to see this happen to a good local pub.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle announced on Friday, Jan. 16, that it too was drastically rearranging its paper. The reliable Wednesday food section, a bastion for area restaurant-goers and home cooks, will be revamped and appear in the Sunday Styles section beginning on Feb. 1. The Friday wine section also gets crammed into the Sunday edition, and Thursdays, a dreary edition reserved mostly to deliver the accidentally fine-arts-heavy, calendar-driven bid for those crazy young folks known as "96 Hours," will find a restaurant review and restaurant update review plus the popular "Inside Scoop" column tracking resto comings and goings in the Datebook section.
The Home & Garden section is promised to appear on Wednesdays, moving from its Saturday slot on Feb. 4. By cannibalizing their print product, perhaps the Chron means to drive subscribers to a Sunday-only print read with free content just given away daily on their website?
Or perhaps not.
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