The San Francisco Chronicle could be dead by the end of the year if it doesn’t find a buyer.

Personally, I don’t think the Chronicle is expecting to actually shutter this year (planning on it is another story). The SF daily has too much name recognition value and local prestige for prospective buyers to let something so traumatic as a total annihilation scenario play out.

I imagine a lot of media speculators and bullshitters (such as myself) in Colorado smugly rattled off the same assumption earlier this year, though. Ouch.

If anything, the Chronicle will face conglomeration, the subsequent mass downsizing (down from its already-sliced numbers) and a slow-to-gradual slide into conglomerated obscurity/passivity, such as MediaNews’ San Jose Mercury News, a formerly world-famous newspaper.

Speaking of things related to the Merc, Dean Singleton might be one of the buyers in the running to pick up the Chronicle and the bills picking it up will entail. A connection inside the MediaNews fold recently told me that Singleton is the only feasible candidate for the SF paper, since the guy already has a number of East and South Bay papers in his pocket under the MediaNews imprint. All these papers share editorial content and their sales staffs can sell space in each others’ papers (a fact that said connections tells me causes innumerable bureaucratic headaches, especially regarding the Mercury News). Is the future a South Bay Super Daily under several assumed names? My question would be “where do I apply?”

Of course, this is all somewhat out of character for me. A pessimist has the satisfaction of being right most of the time and pleasantly surprised the rest of the time.