And the layoffs begin -- a source tells us the first person to be let go from the Chronicle in their 25% reduction-in-staff campaign is managing editor Robert "Rosey" Rosenthal. We got the news confirmed by Friend of SFist and Chron Blogging/Interactive Editor Eve Batey, who says:

It's no secret that we're losing at least 20 managers, but I was still shocked to hear that Rosey would be leaving. The instant rapport I had with him was one of the main reasons I chose to come work at the Chronicle, and he's taught me a lot. He's a great, funny, and enthusiastic guy, with terrific instincts. He's the first one to admit that he doesn't know a lot about the web, but he's also the first one to try to figure out how to make stuff work for online. I can't speak for anyone else here, but I'm going to miss him more than I can say.

Rosey joined the Chron staff at Phil Bronstein's behest in 2002 from the Philadelphia Inquirer, and was in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Chron. He's been credited with a lot of the improvements in coverage seen in the paper during that time, by encouraging stories with longer narrative lines (like BALCO, homelessness, and Alicia's Story) and focusing the paper's coverage on city-specific issues.

We're sorry to see him go, particularly if the news should be read as the paper backing away from Rosey's commitment to the paper's readability (which, you may recall, was the consensus around here on keeping the paper competitive). Best of luck to you, Rosey, and we must admit we're starting to get a real feeling of dread about how these layoffs are going to go from here on out.

Update: Here's the Chron's article about Rosey's departure.