A follow up to our item last week about Chron Editor Phil Bronstein’s new vision for the paper in the wake of massive newsroom layoffs. Bronstein (pictured) tells E&P that the paper wants to go beyond merely covering a story to suggesting ways readers can seek changes and improvements.

    “How does the story affect people? What can they do about it?” Bronstein told E&P in explaining the approach. “There has been a bit of a tradition of saying, ‘Here is the information — good night, see you tomorrow.’ We will deal more with the solutions, get involved and tell people what they can do.”

The approach (which will be called “Journalism of Action”) is like the ChronicleWatch feature, which reports on government-related problems such as potholes and cracked sidewalks, and prints the pictures of the bureaucrats who haven’t fixed them. The Chron took such an approach during the Alameda County trash lockout, where it identified places where replacement workers weren’t picking up the garbage and then used the paper to try and get Waste Management to respond. Bronstein is calling the approach watchdog journalism, which he says is different from advocacy journalism “which is telling people what to think.”

• An updated list of departing Chron staffers will be posted later today.

SF Press Club News


  1. the chronicle gave up local coverage several years ago in its attempt to become a national newspaper with the statute of the nyt or wapo … obviously it failed. in the 70’s the chron was best known as the punchline for a joke about a bad newspaper in ‘all the presidents men’ … nowadays, it’s the punchline to jokes on rush limbaugh’s show …

  2. New vision? Suggesting ways readers can seek changes? That used to be done on the editorial page. Interacting with readers? That used to be done with a letter to the editor. Watchdog journalism? That’s all good journalism. None of these ideas are new, they’re just being repackaged. Too bad. The Chronicle desperately needs NEW ideas. Or new leadership.

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