S.F. Chronicle managing editor resigns


SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Chronicle's managing editor is stepping down as the Hearst Corp.-owned newspaper braces for a round of deep editorial job cuts.

Robert Rosenthal, who joined the Chronicle five years ago, said in a note to staff Tuesday that he is leaving the paper "without rancor or acrimony." He does not have another job lined up, but wants to "help another organization grow and another group of talented people find success."

Rosenthal, who leaves his post Friday, said Wednesday that his departure was not prompted by any personal conflicts, but rather was intended to give Editor Phil Bronstein a freer hand in making the painful restructuring changes to the newsroom.

"I really want to be in a situation where I can build something rather than take it apart," Rosenthal said. "It might be a newspaper or it might a new kind of news organization. I think it's time where the skills we have as journalists can be applied in a different way. The business model for newspapers is clearly broken."

Rosenthal -- nicknamed "Rosey" in the newsroom -- previously worked for 22 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer, in a variety of positions including executive vice president and editor, executive editor, city editor and foreign correspondent.

"Rosey has provided The Chronicle -- and will continue to provide journalism -- with the highest level of integrity and of passion for our craft," Bronstein said in a statement. "There is no question that he embodies the greater traditions of news papering. He is leaving The Chronicle a better place than when he arrived because of his commitment and talent."

Rosenthal's departure comes two weeks after the Chronicle announced a 25% reduction in newsroom staff, affecting all levels of editorial employees.

Management told the union it plans to eliminate 80 union and 20 management positions, out of a newsroom staff of about 400, unless the cuts could be made through buyouts and retirement incentives within 30 days.

Publisher Frank Vega said the measure was part of "continuing belt-tightening" to stem financial losses at the paper, which like other newspapers across the country is grappling with plunging print readership and the loss of advertising dollars to the Web.

The Chronicle had an average paid weekday circulation of 386,564 for the six months ended in March, down 2.9% from the year-ago period, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Weekday circulation at U.S. daily newspapers overall fell 2.1% during the same period.

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