The current issue of the SF Weekly has a 5,350-word story by Michael Stoll on how the Chronicle is transitioning from a printed newspaper to a multimedia company. Breaking news is moving to the paper’s SFGate Web site while the print edition’s front page now has more culture and feature stories. The number of page 1 stories has been reduced to make room for bigger graphics and bolder headlines — headlines that contain more powerful words and phrases like “death plunge.” The moves come as the Chronicle, suffering from declining circulation and advertising, is losing $1 million a week, according to Stoll, citing court testimony.
It’s worth noting that while alt-weeklies typically trash their town’s local daily newspapers every chance they get, Stoll’s article has lines such as: “In 36 years, Bronstein has risen to the very pinnacle of the region’s news hierarchy with a combination of talent, charm, pluck, and luck.” In fact, the article says that Bronstein stopped an interview with the SF Weekly because he smelled a hit piece coming. “Assured a fair hearing, he resumed enthusiastically when asked to discuss his own passion, investigative reporting, most prominently the investigation of performance-enhancing drugs used by professional athletes …, ” Stoll wrote. The article has some criticism, but “… journalists in and around San Francisco were reluctant to go on the record with their true feelings about the Chronicle,” Stoll wrote. “Many have ongoing relationships with the paper, its editors, and its reporters, or hope to write, edit, or consult for it one day. Other journalists we talked with said they didn’t want to be seen as kicking the paper when it was down.”