Perhaps the most shocking thing on the front page of today’s (April 18) Chronicle was an ad — the paper’s first on the front in modern times. The Chron sold a space measuring 6 inches across and 5 inches deep to PG&E, which used it for its “Green is …” campaign. On page 2, the Chron printed a note from publisher Frank Vega (pictured) that said:

    Today, The Chronicle begins publishing front page ads. Our advertisers recognize the value of The Chronicle brand, our audience and the priority of delivering key messages to you, our reader. In the recent past, newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today have all announced their willingness to accept advertising in prominent positions. The Chronicle is committed to delivering to you important news, information and advertising in a variety of new and engaging ways.

The Wall Street Journal and USA Today have run front page ads. The NY Times has not. The Philadelphia Inquirer began running p1 ads on Sunday, and printed this story giving its reasons for adding ads to the front.

On Feb. 19, the Chron began printing ads on the front of its “Bay Area” or “B” section, where most of the local news is located. It’s no secret that the Chron is facing financial troubles. Its owner, Hearst Corp., filed court documents in the Clint Relly antitrust case in September that disclosed the paper has lost $330 million since 2000 — a burn rate of $1 million a week.

Front page ads are common in other Bay Area newspapers. The Palo Alto Daily News has been running them since 1995. Dean Singleton’s Alameda Newspaper Group (Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times, Hayward Review, etc.) has had often run a single ad across the bottom of the front page starting in 2002. The Examiner has also been running front page ads for the past few years.

SF Press Club News,


  1. I wrote a letter to the editor to the Chronicle, but as far as I know, it did not yet get published. I’m ashamed for the Chronicle, that they had to stoop to a new journalistic low in order to make ends meet. But that’s the way it goes, I guess. PG&E’s ad revenue is too good to pass up. And why is PG&E buying ads anyway?? (That’s who is buying the ad, no one else from what I see.)

  2. The Mitchell Bros., who run a strip joint on O’Farrell St., have an ad in the sports section. Wonder if the Chronicle will let them “upgrade” their ad and put it on the front?

  3. the real story is the lack of advertising in the chronicle after the front page … sometimes fewer than 5 ads in the entire first section … how long can they go on like this?

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