The hot story around these parts is the Hearst Corporation's announcement of its intention to either sell or shut down the San Francisco Chronicle
the Bay Area's newspaper of record, and the second-largest paper (in terms of circulation) on the West Coast within the next few weeks, unless a round of layoffs can stem the paper's tide of red ink.
This doesn't come as a total surprise, as newspapers all over the country are struggling against the ever-rising tide of the Internet.
Still, it's unsettling to imagine the newspaper of Herb Caen, Art Hoppe, Matier and Ross, Scott Ostler, Pierre Salinger, Charles McCabe, Phil Frank, Ray Ratto, Joel Selvin, Tim Goodman, and "Dear Abby" going the way of the passenger pigeon and buck-a-gallon gasoline.
has never really been a bastion of cutting-edge journalism, outside of its legendary Sporting Green
45 years ago, satirist Tom Lehrer joked concerning a major news story of the day, "It happened during baseball season, so the Chronicle didn't cover it." That reputation for fluff persisted into the modern Hearst era, which began in 2000 when Hearst sold its one-time flagship paper, the San Francisco Examiner
, and bought the Chronicle
outright from the DeYoung family.
Nevertheless, the Chron
has always been staffed by brilliant writers, most notably its columnists (sports and otherwise). It remains, if not the most hard-hitting news entity on the planet, one of the most readable and entertaining.
I'll be the first to admit that I haven't helped the situation any. I've picked up the actual newsprint Chronicle
not more than a handful of times in the past decade or so. Its online presence, however, is an indispensable part of my daily info crawl. I'd miss it terribly if it went away.
Here's hoping that a streamlined Chronicle
can find a way to survive.
The Bay Area would not be the same without it.
Labels: Good Reads, My Home Town, Ripped From the Headlines, Signs of the Apocalypse