Faced with aging presses and strapped for cash to replace them, the move will significantly cut costs at a paper that lost $50 million in 2008, and allow it to focus on news gathering, Publisher Frank Vega said.
I was listening to KCBS this morning and heard about this story. It's definitely a sad sign of the times that an old institution like The Chronicle is slowly shrinking. However, empires are not meant to last forever and everything must adapt or wither away. Outsourcing the printing of its newspapers sounds like a good start but the final move will have to be to abandon print altogether. It's a slow, inflexible, and very expensive way to get your content out to your users. Eventually, devices like the iPhone and the Kindle should suffice (in a lot of ways, they already do) and the rise of yet to be invented handheld devices should move us to a completely newspaperless society.
But less you think that all good journalism is going out the door with the fall of the old newspaper empires, there is good news to report. The TalkingPointsMemo blog just got a nice investment from Marc Andreessen. The small and nimble "newspaper" has received rave reviews (and a George Polk Award) for their journalistic excellence. I think you're seeing the future of journalism in small outfits like TPM. Small, nimble teams of journalists focused on a single industry/genre/beat. Without the cost of pressmen, delivery personnel, and ad sales teams, you don't need to generate a ton of ads in order to be profitable - which TPM is.