SFGate to begin charging for content
Missed in the general reaction to Tuesday’s news that the San Francisco Chronicle will have to shrink radically, be sold, or closed — as Denver’s Rocky Mountain News went out of business today — was this bit, which I noticed courtesy MediaBistro: The Chronicle is also planning to charge online readers for its SF Gate online presence, Newsosaur reported.
According to the report, “(The plan) would require the elimination of nearly half of the 1,500 employees of the newspaper to wipe out the operating deficit. To avoid cutting that deeply into the staff, the Chronicle plans to boost revenues by increasing subscription prices for the newspaper and to begin charging consumers for access to certain features and sections at its website.”
Some observers speculated that Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group was positioning itself to buy the Chronicle. The company also owns the San Jose Mercury News, the Oakland Tribune, and many other smaller dailies in the Bay Area — as well as the Denver Post.
Yesterday’s Forum program on KQED radio looked at the implications of the Chronicle’s problems, and those of almost every other metropolitan newspaper.
The question is, how many of us are willing to pay more for the Chronicle, both its paper and virtual editions? Let’s leave out the criticisms of the newspaper’s content and policy — the fact is that, if the paper fails, there would be a huge vacuum of information in the city. All the secondary newspapers, the neighborhood sheets, the blogs, radio and television news programs, and the weeklies don’t add up to one single daily metropolitan newspaper with a professional staff of journalists, editors and photographers. And then what happens to democracy in San Francisco? Would you still hold your demonstration if there’s no one there to report on it? What will well-connected business people and their friends in City Hall slip past the public if there’s no one watching? Who’s going to tell me why Giants pitcher Noah Lowry’s arm is still messed up? Comments?