April has been a black flag month for local media. First there was the bloodbath at KGO radio, where roughly 30 people in the stationâs news department were shown the door. Then there was KFOG, where a half-dozen longtime disc jockeys were replaced with machines. South Bay news station KLIV followed a week later, announcing its entire newsroomâabout a dozen staffersâwould be replaced in a format change to âclassic country,â which we guess is more Garth Brooks than Chris Gaines. But the hits keep coming. Last Friday, word leaked that the San Jose-less Mercury News would eliminate copy editing for most stories and use software to check grammar.Â A memo from managing editor Bert Robinson landed on Jim Romeneskoâs media blog, framing the situation in blunt terms. The reality is that reporters in most newsrooms have been writing their own headlines and fact-checking their stories for a while. Fly has since learned that the exits also include Pulitzer Prize-winner Pete Carey, Harvard Nieman Fellow Joe Rodriguez and longtime editor David Early. It seems like little coincidence that the news came right after parent company Bay Area News Group named Neil Chase its new editor in chief. A journalist turned marketer, Chase will lead the âdigital restructuring,â a euphemism for ageism, where experienced professionals are replaced with younger and cheaper content processorsâexcept in one respect: personalities. Merc sports columnist Mark Purdy was supposedly one interested party in taking a buyout but the paper only allowed reporters over the age of 60 with 20 years experience to accept severance packages. Robinson confirmed that columnists were not offered buy-outs, adding that it would be ânews to meâ if any columnists wanted out. Merc newsroom staff has dropped fromÂ about 400 in 1999 to roughly half of that today.Â Losing a familiar face like Purdyâs would mostly rile print subscribers, however many there still are, butÂ insiders say the story to watch is how Robinson gets on with Chase, who starts at the end of this month.