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Bronstein explains why he is stepping down

Bronstein addresses the newsroom.

“At times, what happens in this city is like the plagues of Egypt,” Phil Bronstein told E&P this afternoon after announcing he was stepping down as editor of the Chronicle. “It wasn’t just the earthquakes and the fires, there were … mergers and sales and acquisitions and strikes. I’m an adrenaline junkie — but even adrenaline junkies have to take a break some time.”

One factor, he said, was the Balco case, where federal prosecutors threatened Chronicle reporters Lance Williams (left) and Mark Fainaru-Wada (right) with jail for refusing to identify who leaked grand jury testimony. (In this 2006 shot outside the San Francisco federal courthouse, Bronstein is second from left and next to him is Hearst Corp. General Counsel Eve Burton.)

A press release from Hearst said Bronstein will become the paper’s editor-at-large and continue to represent the Chron in the community as “a principal public face of the paper.”

Bronstein’s celebrity status is due partially to his five-year marriage to actress Sharon Stone. He made headlines around the world when in 2001 he was bit by a Komodo dragon during a visit Stone arranged to the Los Angeles Zoo as a surprise father’s day gift.

But he made plenty of news without Stone, like the time in 1996 when he put on scuba gear to look for an alligator in a San Francisco lake. Or the scuffle he had with former mayoral candidate Clint Reilly in a newspaper conference room.

Bronstein’s replacement has already been selected and the paper expects to reveal his or her name in the next few days. The only clue Bronstein is giving is that the new editor has “deep roots in the Bay Area.” (Photo credit: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, Chronicle)

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