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Embattled San Francisco Chronicle's Phil Bronstein No Longer Editor in Chief, Staff Shocked

Wed Jan 23 2008, at 03:41:37 PM

UPDATE: 4:11 p.m.: From Chronicle Reporter Marisa Lagos, regarding loss of Bronstein as Chronicle Editor in Chief:

"reaction here is shock, no one really saw it coming and he said the person taking over will have "deep roots in the area""

UPDATE: 4 p.m.
Ok. For the lamoes. The Bay Area's #1 daily newspaper just lost its head. Amid falling profits, circulation and prestige, The Chronicle's parent company just announced that Chronicle Editor in Chief Phil Bronstein ­-- uh -- won't be editor in chief anymore. They don't have a new guy to announce, just that the old guy is out, ... err, up. Now Phil will be "editor-at-large" in charge of "strategy" and stuff. What stuff? We don't know. All we know is the Hearst press release makes it sound like Phil's sort of getting a promotion. It's not clear if he asked for one or wanted one, but he got one.

Some outside media watchers will say this is further proof the Chronicle is convulsing and flailing, searching for a way to stop the hemorrhaging. Hearst probably has a new guy with more layoffs on the brain; something similar to the dirty deeds done down south to the Los Angeles Times by it's parent Tribune.

Conversely Hearst is playing it like, "It's all good. No biggie. We're losing millions. Not a big deal. We gave the boss a promotion. Carry on."

Got an opinion? Weigh in down below. First decent idea in the comments wins a free pair of concert tickets.

We gotta go make some calls.

ORIGINAL POST: This just in, San Francisco Chronicle boss and figurehead Phil Bronstein is no longer running "day to day operations" at the storied, embattled daily. More as we parse the comic, cryptic press release below.. ... --David Downs, Web Editor


NEW YORK, January 23, 2008--Hearst Newspapers announced today that San
Francisco Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein will be shifting his role from
running day-to-day operations in the newsroom to taking on broader
strategic responsibilities at the paper and for its owner, Hearst
Corporation. Bronstein will remain executive vice president of The
Chronicle and will assume the title editor-at-large, both for the paper
and for the newspapers division of Hearst. A new editor will be
announced shortly.

Commenting on the announcement, George B. Irish, president, Hearst
Newspapers, said, "I asked Phil to consider having a larger role at
Hearst, in addition to strategic responsibilities at the San Francisco
Chronicle. I am delighted that he has agreed."

Bronstein will continue to represent The Chronicle in the community as a
principal public face of the paper. Working with all departments, he
will help shape the role of the paper and its Web site,, in
San Francisco and the Bay Area. In addition, Bronstein will work with
the newspapers division to oversee investigative projects that may
involve multiple properties using resources throughout Hearst. He will
also seek to expand successful strategies he initiated at The Chronicle
to other Hearst papers, and will work with the office of Hearst's
General Counsel on First Amendment issues, including a federal shield
law for reporters. He will also work directly with top digital media
executives at Hearst Newspapers to identify ideas and content that can
be applied across the company.

In addition, Bronstein will write for The Chronicle and "I
got into this profession because of my great love for words and how they
can be used to move people," he said. "Hearst is a huge company with
amazing creative resources and I'm really looking forward to diving into
the possibilities that presents."

Regarding his newsroom staff, Bronstein said, "I am enormously proud of
what we've accomplished together here. We have saved people's lives,
helped countless others have better lives and held public figures and
institutions accountable to those they are supposed to serve. And we
have done these things consistently and forcefully.

"In the last few years, we have become a multimedia newsroom; we have
taken more risks, engaged our readers more fully, become a more
dynamically local paper and introduced popular and vital innovations
like ChronicleWatch and Journalism of Action. We have gotten more
recognition from our peers and our profession than at any time in the
paper's history and we, virtually alone among media outlets and
companies in recent times, stood firm when federal prosecutors sought to
have us reveal our sources [during the BALCO steroids case]. That last
battle was truly an epic one.

"We've instituted many changes here, particularly over the last three
years. We are on the right track and that causes me to feel that I am
making this move at a good time for The Chronicle and for me." Bronstein
thanked his staff for "indulging me, however reluctantly at times, for
working so hard, for being so dedicated and for making me look good
because of your great talents, far more than I deserved."

Chronicle Publisher Frank J. Vega commented: "Some of Phil's most
innovative ideas, including his introduction of Journalism of Action to
our newsroom, show just how far ahead of the curve he is."

Bronstein added: "After 17 years of editing a paper and all the daily
responsibilities it entails, it was time for me to move to some of the
larger strategic interests I have never had time to pursue. Those 17
years were filled with innumerable crises and great stories, including
floods, earthquakes and fires ? we've lived through times and tumult of
almost biblical proportion. But the profession is changing dramatically
and there's so much we ought to be doing now to take advantage of those

Bronstein first became editor of the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner
in 1991. He then took over as Chronicle editor when the two newsrooms
merged in 2000. He had been a reporter at The Examiner since 1980, and
was an award-winning investigative reporter and foreign correspondent.

Hearst Corporation ( is one of the nation's largest
diversified media companies. Its major interests include ownership of 12
daily and 31 weekly newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle,
Houston Chronicle and Albany Times Union; as well as interests in an
additional 47 daily and 38 non-daily newspapers owned by MediaNews Group
which include the Denver Post and Salt Lake Tribune; nearly 200
magazines around the world, including Cosmopolitan and O, The Oprah
Magazine; 29 television stations through Hearst-Argyle Television
(NYSE:HTV) which reach a combined 18% of U.S. viewers; ownership in
leading cable networks, including Lifetime, A&E;, The History Channel and
ESPN; as well as business publishing, including a joint venture interest
in Fitch Ratings; Internet businesses, television production, newspaper
features distribution and real estate.

Contact: Paul Luthringer, 212-649-2540 or

Category: Media
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Get Inspired, Quit That Cubicle Job, Then Ride Across Country on a Segway

Wed Jan 23 2008, at 03:27:25 PM

Imagine David Lynch's The Straight Story, except instead of one man riding a lawnmower across two states, he's on one of those ridiculous Segways and going across country. The award-winning documentary 10 MPH is now available for free on YouTube. "This is 6,000 times harder than what Lance Armstrong had to do in France," says producer J. Fred. "This is the toughest athletic event ever." Follow their slow-ass journey on this fancy scooter, where one full day's distance is equal to what a car can drive in an hour. The characters they meet and the footage they get of America's landscape makes you want to quit your own day job and go explore. — James Y Lee

Category: Laser-Guided Awesome
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MacHEADS, The Movie: 'Muslims Go To Mecca, We Go To Macca'

Wed Jan 23 2008, at 11:55:21 AM

I'm surprised it took so long for somebody to make this movie, which explores the borderline insanity and religious devotion of Mac fanatics.

Best lines in the trailer:

  • "I've never knowingly slept with a Windows user, ever. Ever. That would never, ever happen."
  • "What was the question? How has the Mac changed my life? It's kept me isolated. It's kept me from having a wife. It's kept me from having a life."
  • Well, when you put it that way, Mac sounds like a fantastic contribution to human happiness. Read more about the flick here.

    (via Laughing Squid)

    -- Brian Bernbaum

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    Hit Me on My iPhone, My, My iPhone

    Wed Jan 23 2008, at 11:24:46 AM

    By way of explanation, which you will certainly want to hear after watching the whitest man on Earth spinning equally cracker-ass rhymes like this: "You might catch me talking to a tender, lovely lady/but I'm yapping through the earbuds so you probably thought I'm crazy."

    From the man himself, Pete Miser:

    "I'm not the type to get all mushy about a piece of technology, but it done changed my life. (If you don't know, then you better borrow your cousin's and check it out. I'm not gonna go on a whole tangent but messing around with an iPhone is like reaching into the future and hanging out with super attractive aliens at a hot party...or something.)"

    (via Boing Boing)

    -- Brian Bernbaum

    Category: Science and Tech
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    The Chronicle Mashup: An Amalgamation of All the Stories Our Local Paper Has Covered to Death

    Wed Jan 23 2008, at 09:05:15 AM


    By Joe Eskenazi

    Amazing scenes were witnessed today at the San Francisco Zoo, when alleged aggressive panhandling from a homeless man induced an episode of “Roid Rage” in Barry the steroidal Siberian tiger. The cat escaped his pen and set the Major League Zoo record for maulings with 73, before being shot dead while putting the finishing touches on former Supervisor Ed Jew.

    The rampage comes on the heels of a Chronicle investigation of illegal supplements provided to animals via the Bay Area Laboratory Zoo Co-Operative (BALZCO); Barry had been receiving packages of Tiger Growth Hormone since 2002, according to leaked grand jury testimony. Other zoo animals linked to BALZCO include Giambi the elephant, Romo the rhino, and Marion the cheetah.

    Reginald Jackson, the homeless man who allegedly touched off the deadly rampage, was profiled last month in a front-page column by C.W. Nevius, “You Know What Grinds My Gears? Homeless People Ruining My Commute from Walnut Creek, That’s What.”

    After Jackson told San Francisco police he would “rather die” than leave his Golden Gate park encampment and head to a homeless shelter, Nevius noted, “Well, if he would rather die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.

    Jackson is a former Oakland resident (see Chip Johnson’s column in the Bay Area section blaming Mayor Ron Dellums for Jackson’s behavior). After a prolonged legal struggle...

    Category: Media, SFTopNews
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    How to Make Student Loans Your Bitch- By Laser-Guided Awesome, The SF Weekly Utility Blog

    Wed Jan 23 2008, at 08:14:52 AM

    Not counting the spoiled princesses, most of us grads have to deal with student loans. Sure, there have been talks of congress trying to revamp the whole student-loan program. That’s fantastic, but what the Hell should we do now? I have a friend that owes 30k with Sallie Mae, the biggest name in student loans. And she sounds like a total bitch. My education was my parents number one priority, which I appreciated by going to UC Santa Cruz and achieving a G.P.A. of 3 rainbow stickers and 2 unicorn ones at their ultra-liberal university. And those unicorn ones are hard to get. Anyways, here are some tips on how to deal with student loans when you enter the real world.—James Y Lee

    Category: Laser-Guided Awesome
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    Tiger attack claims life of public hearing

    Tue Jan 22 2008, at 05:56:25 PM

    This is only one of the kinds of dumb animals that city hall likes to exploit

    by Benjamin Wachs

    Tatiana the tiger may not be getting a headstone, but she will serve as one to her final victim: the public hearing.

    She, and the mayor, killed it as a useful tool of government.

    Last week the Mayor held a public hearing on the tiger attack, and the public showed up … the San Francisco public will ALWAYS show up if they think there will be a microphone … and the Chronicle and the Guardian both took the event seriously enough not to ask the most basic question: what the hell was the Mayor doing?

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    Heath Ledger Dead at 28 - Gals (Dudes too) at SF Weekly Gasping, Demanding 'Why!?'

    Tue Jan 22 2008, at 03:32:12 PM

    (Last pic of Ledger alive from

    We're chasing word that Brokeback Mountain actor Heath Ledger is dead. Totally unconfirmed. -- Snitch Staff Report

    Yeah, it's confirmed. From the NYT:

    The actor Heath Ledger was found dead this afternoon in an apartment in Manhattan owned by the actress Mary-Kate Olsen, according to the New York City police. Mr. Ledger was 28.

    From the TMZ:

    He was found dead in his bed in one of his residences in Soho by his housekeeper at 3:35 PM ET today. Law enforcement sources tell TMZ they believe it was not a crime, adding prescription pills were found near his body.


    Ledger was to appear as the Joker this year in "The Dark Night," a sequel to 2005's "Batman Begins." He's had starring roles in "A Knight's Tale" and "The Patriot," and played the suicidal son of Billy Bob Thornton in "Monster's Ball."

    From Defamer:

    Actor Heath Ledger was found dead today in a Broome Street apartment, apparently from a drug overdose, has learned exclusively. We're in shock. Seriously. Can't. Breathe. Updates as they come.

    From Topless Robot:

    Heath Ledger, the Joker, and the Comic TV/Movie Curse: With Heath Ledger's totally unexpected demise today, he joins a few others seemingly cursed by their association to comic book movies and TV shows.

    Category: Media
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    Having Trouble Sleeping? It Might Be Cell Phone Radiation

    Tue Jan 22 2008, at 02:16:04 PM

    Remember six years ago when Levi released radiation-reducing lining in jeans pockets so you don't nuke your testicles? It made sense to me, as I'm reluctant to put anything called RAZR next to my cash & prizes. Now a recent study says that your cell could be harming your sleep with its invisible plasma rays, or whatever. Cutting through the mumbo jumbo, the study pretty much states that your beloved BlackBerry is shooting laser beams at your initial stages of slumber. Check out the top ten phones that throw out the most radiation at your precious noggin. Now go steal that lead apron from your dentist and make that your PJs from now on. — James Y Lee

    Category: Laser-Guided Awesome
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    More Milk: Open Casting Call For Castro March Extras

    Tue Jan 22 2008, at 11:52:04 AM


    Filming for the Gus Van Sant biopic about Harvey Milk, Milk, starring Sean Penn, starts this week in San Francisco. There's yet another call for extras, only this time you're just about guaranteed a spot in the re-creation of three 1970s Castro marches, assuming you show up. The marches will take place on Monday February 4, and Friday, February 8. Register here:

    "We are looking for volunteers to appear in the these marches in the film. THERE ARE NO AUDITIONS. IF YOU SIGN-UP ON THIS SITE AND SHOW UP, YOU WILL BE USED. All ages, races and genders are welcome. But, you MUST be 18 or over to participate."

    SFist lays out a helpful list of items that are discouraged for participants:

  • NO Trendy designer jeans with overt modern finishes; extremely faded legs, wiskering, embroidery, large logos, etc. [i.e., no zhooshing, homos. -- bk]

  • NO clothing with branding such as Abercrombie, Nike, Gap, etc; NO overt phrases or logos.

  • NO clothing items that are made from identifiable modern materials such as Polar Fleece, Velcro, gore tex, etc.

  • NO modern-looking sneakers that appear to be made with advanced materials, air pumps, clear rubbers, etc.

  • NO Garish bright colors such as BRIGHT white or red, or "Wacky" disco-themed '70s "Halloween Costumes" [i.e., no burners]

    -- Brian Bernbaum

  • Category:
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    Breaking: Giant Cartoon Squid Attacks Golden Gate Bridge!

    Tue Jan 22 2008, at 11:29:35 AM


    Who doesn't love the Golden Gate Bridge? Who doesn't love giant squid? Put them together and you've got one awesome t-shirt, (by GAMA-GO ) not to mention the premise for a great summer blockbuster: a giant cartoon squid rises up from the bay to attack San Francisco, starting with the Golden Gate Bridge. I've got dibs on the screenplay, so don't even think about it. (via Laughing Squid)

    -- Brian Bernbaum

    Category: Media
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    Do You Have Psychopathic Tendencies? Just Mild or Crazy Spicy?

    Tue Jan 22 2008, at 11:13:14 AM

    It seems psychopaths are harder to spot than I thought. According to this post on psychopathy, "roughly one man in every 100 is born a clinical psychopath, as well as one woman in every 300." I think this warrants a social networking/dating site for psychos that have further interests than long walks on the beach, such as carving swastikas on their foreheads and jerking off to Guns & Ammo. — James Y. Lee

    Category: Laser-Guided Awesome
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    BetterKnowanSFBlog: The Greatest Hits

    Tue Jan 22 2008, at 10:55:00 AM

    In case you haven't noticed, every Tuesday we profile one of the Bay's rockin' blogs in a segment we call BetterKnowanSFBlog. If you don't know what a blog is, you're obviously spending too much time on that antiquated machine you call a TV.

    So these are some of the most popular articles in the BetterKnowanSFBlog series, in no particular order because we don't believe in hierarchies ... or something like that.

    If, by the end of this tumble through the blogosphere, you feel inspired to join this here SF Weekly blog community, get your own SF Weekly screen name which you can use to leave comments on our articles, build up a reputation on, and get to know other commenters.

    Category: BetterKnowanSFBlog, Media, Science and Tech
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    Do Those Bastards Owe You Some Money? Actually, They Probably Do. See How to Get Your Pound of Flesh Right Here.

    Tue Jan 22 2008, at 09:05:26 AM


    You want your piece of a $336 million bonanza? Then read this story and follow the links.

    By Joe Eskenazi

    I’ve got two simple questions for you: Do you own a Visa, MasterCard ,or Diners Club credit, debit or ATM card? And did you spend at least a week overseas between February of 1996 and November of 2006?

    If you’re a San Franciscan and you’re reading this on a computer that isn’t held together with chewing gum and duct tape, the answers are probably overwhelmingly yes and yes.

    Well, somebody owes you money. And I’m going to help you get it.

    You may have already received...

    Category: Business
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    First Comment on This Post Gets Free Pair of Concert Tickets to Any Show at Cafe Du Nord

    Mon Jan 21 2008, at 05:04:25 PM

    You must have a valid account. Register for an account here. I repeat:

    First Comment On This Post Gets Free Pair of Concert Tickets To Any Show at Cafe Du Nord

    Next week we'll give away lift tickets to Northstar at Tahoe in the same fashion.


    Category: Free Shit
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